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‘Switched at Birth’ Silent Episode 1.6 Million Viewers

VIDEO: Gallaudet University uses all-sign language episode of ‘Switched at Birth’ to air new commercial.

Gallaudet University is taking advantage of a special episode of ABC Family’s ‘Switched at Birth’ Monday night, as a commercial for the university will air during an episode of the show that is told entirely in American Sign Language and based on real-life events that happened at the school itself.

The all-sign language technique for the episode is a first for a scripted series on mainstream television, according to the network, which will air Gallaudet’s commercial twice during the hour. The episode takes place on the 25th anniversary of the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet in March 1988, when students and faculty protested after the university instated a hearing president over two Deaf candidates.

Switched at Birth,’ which wraps up the first half of its second season next week, follows the chaos that takes place when two high school girls find out they were sent home with the wrong families as babies in the hospital. One of the daughters is Deaf, resulting as a driving plot force in the series. The show, which debuted in June 2011 to more than 3 million viewers, has attracted around 1.7 million people per episode this season.

In Monday’s episode at 8 p.m., the fictional Carlton School for the Deaf is on the brink of closing, so the students protest, inspired by the real-life circumstances at Gallaudet in the 80s. The whole hour will be in sign language, with accompanying subtitles. ... Read more:

On ABC Family, an Episode in Sign Language - On Monday night, ABC Family did something that no commercial television outlet in the United States had ever done: it broadcast an entire episode of a show in sign language, with closed captioning turned on by default.

Advocates for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing cheered the move, and they wondered: would viewers tune in specifically for the almost-silent episode of the series, ‘Switched at Birth,’ one of ABC Family’s most popular? Or would viewers turn it off, potentially perturbed by the lack of audio? There was a normal musical score, and a scene at the beginning of the episode with audible dialogue, but the rest of the dialogue was in sign language.

Broadly speaking, neither outcome came true. The show’s overnight Nielsen ratings were down, but only slightly. Most fans of the show stayed with it 1.6 million, according to the overnight ratings. The series this season has averaged 1.7 million viewers.

In the show’s target demographic, women 12 to 34, 748,000 viewers tuned in, down just a little bit from the season average of 777,000. About a quarter of those viewers usually record the show and watch it later, so the final ratings won’t come in for a while.

“Switched at Birth” features several Deaf or hard-of-hearing characters, so every episode incorporates sign language in some way. But Monday’s episode went further. ... Read more:

Switched at Birth's’ ASL episode information:

‘Switched at Birth’: ABC Family’s The teen soap Switched at Birth explores self-expression and the communication gulf between the hearing and Deaf communities. List of Switched at Birth characters:
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