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Switched at Birth may have initially been known for its oddball “babies switched at a hospital” premise. However, now it is as much known for its varied and intricate cast of deaf characters, and Switched at Birth executive producer Lizzy Weiss has been wanting to utilize her cast members to great effect. To do so, ABC Family has signed on for an episode that will be told entirely in American Sign Language.
The creation of an episode told entirely in ASL has never been done on mainstream television before, and, according to TV By The Numbers, Weiss says the idea has been a long time in the making. The executive producer of the hit ABC Family series is also noting that decisions made thus far within the series were meant to lead into a special episode like the upcoming ASL storyline.
"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 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.”
The way Weiss speaks about the episode makes it seem that if the ASL format works, we might see more similarly-formatted episodes in the future, but the real question concerns how the cast and crew plan to tell a story fully in ASL while still creating content that viewers without ASL proficiency can still understand.
The episode will premiere on Monday, March 4 and will follow a group of deaf students in the middle of a student uprising. The episode will be told from the perspectives of multiple deaf characters, but will feature open captions for any hearing viewers who do not know ASL. Switched at Birth only recently began airing its second season, so by the time the ASL episode airs, the show should be fully into the swing of its sophomore season.
Switched at Birth airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.