ABC Family and Switched at Birth are gearing up for a groundbreaking event: an episode told entirely through American Sign Language-- without any spoken dialogue.
The special episode will be told from the perspective of the series’ multiple deaf characters– with open captions for hearing viewers– in a storyline that puts the audience in the middle of a student uprising in which the very essence of their deaf identity is at stake.
"I've been wanting to do an all-ASL episode since the series began, and the storyline we've been focusing on this season gave us the perfect opportunity. It's an exciting, visual, empowering story of kids who are different fighting back, and it allows our audience to experience the world as our deaf characters do. We've been building to this for 39 episodes and we're all thrilled to be the first to try this," series creator Lizzy Weiss said in a statement to the press.
The timing couldn't be more perfect to explore such a creative storytelling outlet, as season two of the acclaimed drama sees Bay (Vanessa Marano), a hearing student who does sign, enter Carlton, a school for the deaf, in a new pilot program. Joining her are new cast members Max Lloyd-Jones and Stephen Lunsford as hearing students who do not know how to sign at all. The deaf students in Carlton do not welcome these kids with open arms. In fact, it is far from it, since many of their programs have been cut to make budgetary way for this experiment.
Needless to say, tensions are rising, and characters find themselves picking sides. Switched at Birth has already mastered the art of the "silent fight" by showing characters argue only through body language, facial expressions, and signs, so we cannot wait to see how much farther they can take their talent by asking them to do it for an entire episode.
What an amazing challenge; we hope they receive some kind of special awards recognition for this!
Switched at Birth airs on ABC Family on Monday nights at 8 p.m. This special, all-ASL episode will air on March 4th 2013.
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