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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts on Switched at Birth, Episode Two

Switched at Birth, a new television show on ABC Family continues to raise deaf awareness. Here are my thoughts on the latest episode.

I was really pleased to see the question of "Can people who are deaf drive safely?" addressed in the second episode. I think that's one of the most common misconceptions hearing people have about the deaf. In this episode Daphne's biological parents were very concerned about her riding to school on the back of a motorcycle driven by her deaf friend. I liked that Daphne's mom was compassionate about their concern but stood her ground in explaining that people who are deaf can be safe drivers.

Another scene I liked took place in a music store when Liam who is hearing tried to converse with Daphne and she misunderstood what he said. She then took him over to a pair of headphones, played music for him, and then asked him to lipread what she said. When he was completely unable to do it, he began to understand how difficult lipreading is. Here again, a common misconception hearing people have about the super lipreading powers of the deaf was examined.

My other favorite moment from the show was the scene where Daphne ate breakfast alone with her biological parents, brother, and Bay. Without her Mom there to remind them by her translating, the family quickly forgot that Daphne can't hear them. They talked all at once, back and forth, and the camera spun around to show Daphne's view as she tried to make sense of the conversation. When her lack of understanding was revealed by her delighted comment after taking a bite of toast that the jam was rhubarb which her biological mother had just been explaining at length, the family was shocked. Then her brother made a quip about her being similar to his grandpa. In my experience when someone with hearing loss is not elderly, people forget. I have to constantly remind people how to communicate with me and I bet that's your experience too.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the show covers next. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

YES!! The scene in the music store hit very close to home for me. I especially liked the look on Daphne's face when she misunderstood Liam. I've had similar (very funny) experiences with friends. And speaking of funny, I laughed when the brother quipped that Daphne was like grandpa. Seeing that glazed look on her face reminded me of college. When I went out with friends, half the time I didn't know what was being said. People would fill me in but not without giving me a hard time (all in good fun of course).

The scene with Liam's friends outside the music store was kind of annoying. Liam was clearly standing up for Daphne and seeing her get annoyed and leave was disappointing. Sometimes I think people need to lighten up a little. My friends don't make fun of me because I'm deaf, they do it because I'm a guy and that's what guys do. I make fun of them plenty so it all evens out. If she had just played along with their fun for a minute, it would have blown over and everyone would have been happy.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Anonymous,
Sometimes this show seems to resolve situations a little too quickly. For example, in this episode we found out that Daphne is staying at the deaf school after all but didn't see when/why the decision was made. I wonder if we will see more of Liam or if that was the end of it. I hope in future episodes they will refer to the challenges of hearing/deaf relationships again.
Thanks for your comment.

Jedediah said...

There was a comment in T.C. Boyle's TalkTalk about driving, saying that it's possible that the deaf can be even better drivers because they are not distracted by noise. I've always found the notion of the deaf not being able to drive a bit weird - how much does one really rely on one's ears while driving (especially while playing loud music in your car)?

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Jedediah,
I was thinking the same thing this morning as I was driving in to work. Police cars and ambulances have flashing lights in addition to the sirens to alert drivers to their presence. The visual cues are vital. Drivers who aren't distracted by their cell phones and car stereos have more focus on the road.
Thanks for your comment and the shout out for Talk, Talk - a terrific book.

CCACaptioning said...

Good post and comments! We've also been glued to the first two episodes (online) and thinking along the same lines (no time to blog :-). May we repost your blog Librarian,with full attribution of course....?

The show seems to include so many of all the "myths" and "frustrations" so many millions of us experience, if we are deaf or have a hearing loss, if we use sign language or not! I agree it's moving so quickly also - I'd like the audience to "savor" and "absorb" all these moments your blog captures well.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Sure, you can repost it, Lauren.

I didn't mention this, but I was frustrated with the incomplete captions that were available on Hulu when I watched it. I didn't get a chance to watch it again, so I hope that got fixed. Have you ever experienced that?

CCACaptioning said...

Thanks for reply today.
I watch this show on ABC online, where the placement of the captions is problematic for me (under the images in a black box), yet there are there at least. I tried Hulu also, yet could not figure out how to turn them on :-(
Quality of captioning is the "next step" and worth reporting it to them. As you know, the CCAC currently is advocating to the AARP to caption its online broadcasting, starting with their webinars.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Lauren,
I had trouble figuring out Hulu's captions too. What you have to do is click on the word English (or maybe it was the CC symbol). It felt to me like I was turning the captions off by doing it, but that's actually the way it works. There are 3 choices of caption styles. Once you've clicked the word English or the CC symbol, then click on the style you want. Hope that helps. I'm not on the site now so I'm writing from memory on this.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hulu's guide to closed captions