‘Switched At Birth’ creator Lizzy Weiss has been hoping for an episode told entirely in ASL (American Sign Language), and ABC Family has granted her wish! The episode will be the first of its kind on mainstream TV. In a recent interview by TVLine, Weiss details the thinking, the process, and the execution of the groundbreaking television event.
TVLINE | This is something you’ve wanted to do for a while. How did it finally become a reality?
The network called and said, “We thought it’d be really fun if you did it. Do you want to try?” I said, “We totally want to try!” We talked about it in the room [and said], “Let’s do it.” We always thought we would do it later. The writers and I always thought, “Someday. Someday.” We were more focused on, “OK, what’s the story we’re going to do next week?” Once the network said, “How about now?” we said, “Great! We have room for it in this cycle because we’re telling a story already about Carlton closing, and that’s probably a great time to do it.”
TVLINE | How did the cast react? Especially among those who are hearing, did they think, “Oh, I’m going to get a vacation”?
Ha! [Laughs] Actually, the opposite. They were really nervous at first because before any of them knew what the story was going to be, they assumed it would just mean a lot more signing for them. As it turns out, it wasn’t more signing for them. The story we ended up telling is more a story about deaf students, so most of the signing in the episode is by people who are fluent already. We have some scenes, of course, with the parents, but less than normal because it’s a one-story episode. It’s the first time we’ve ever done an episode in which there’s only an A-story. We don’t cut away to a parent story or to one of the girls having a different story or to a Toby story. It’s just the story of the kids trying to save the school.