Switched at Birth, now in its second season on ABC Family, tells a tale of two infant girls switched at birth in a hospital error. The error brings two families, from different sides of the tracks, into daily contact. The working class Vasquez Family is made of three generations of women, while the affluent Kennish Family is the perceived traditional family with a mom, dad and two children.
In the first season the families learned of the switch and the hearing loss, caused by meningitis, of the Kennish’s birth daughter. When tempers flare, accusations are thrown, lawsuits considered, and emotions run amuck, both families find that they do not want to switch daughters back, but would rather get to know their birth daughters.
Because Daphne Vasquez, played by hard of hearing actress Katie Leclerc, is deaf her mother and grandmother, played by Constance Marie and Ivonne Coll, respectively, are able to communicate in American Sign Language (ASL). With the Kennish family making an effort to learn ASL, and with many of the school scenes taking place at a school for the deaf, ASL is an integral part of the series.
The show met controversy early in its run when a deaf ASL teacher said that Leclerc wasn’t “deaf enough” to play a deaf character. In truth, the show has brought the general public an awareness of the deaf community and its degrees of hearing loss and has characters who are both verbal and non-verbal.
This evening’s episode is a television first, the show will air with all ‘dialogue’ done in American Sign Language, with captions for those of us who do not know ASL. It should prove to be both entertaining and enlightening.
Check out a sneak peek of the episode: