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Petitioning ABC Family and the "Switched at Birth" series and 1 other

Create responsible, accurate, and family-oriented TV programming.

As a "family" channel, ABC Family (and their parent company, The Walt Disney Company) have a responsibility to live up to their name - by creating programming that is "family friendly."

As a Deaf ASL teacher, I was pretty excited when ABC Family's announced a new show that featured Deaf characters. The Deaf community had an opportunity to have a show they could relate to and the hearing community would have a show that promoted understanding and awareness of the Deaf world.

ABC Family first dropped the ball by hiring an actress who is not Deaf. Katie Leclerc is an actress that only recently started losing some of her hearing due to Meniere's Disease. The only reason she knew any ASL before the show was because she took it in high school and that was because, In her own words, "I was very bad at Spanish." Leclerc has to take voice lessons in order to "sound Deaf" on the show. Leclerc portrays herself as an ambassador of the Deaf community - "I feel comfortable in the deaf world I feel comfortable in the hearing world," Leclerc said. "I'm glad I can cross over." - There is no crossing over. She is a hearing person that is playing the part of a Deaf character. She is not a part of the Deaf world. Thus, some of the things about her character are not things that are normal for a Deaf person who grew up in the Deaf world - such as her ability to lipread flawlessly, her constant sim-com (talking and signing at the same time), and her signing being jerky and awkward at times. There are many talented and beautiful culturally Deaf actresses that ABC Family could have hired.

ABC Family dropped the ball a second time by not having any culturally Deaf script writers. Instead, the writers are writing about a (Deaf) way of life that, to them, is from the outside looking in. Hearing writers don't know what it is like to be a Deaf person. Thus, no matter how much research they do, how much consulting they do, they will still always be writing the script from an outsider's (hearing) perspective.

ABC Family has dropped the ball a third time by taking a show that can do so much good for promoting Deaf awareness rather than "sensationalizing/dramatizing" it. Rather than focusing on issues that are important to the Deaf community, ABC Family has chosen to bring in sexual innuendoes, drug references, and now, outright sex between teens. So much for being a "family" channel. A recent episode glamorized gratuitous teen sex. Of all the possible plots that ABC Family could have chosen, they had to pick this one. And for what purpose? What possible redeeming feature does that have? ABC Family KNOWS that there are millions of very impressionable kids who are totally hooked on this show. Rather than recognizing the huge responsibility that comes with that, they took the worst possible route. Instead of taking an incredible opportunity to promote Deaf awareness, they prey upon the impressionable imaginations of these kids.

Rather than being able to use this show as an opportunity for my high school students to learn, explore, and develop a passion for the Deaf world through a well-written show, I have to discourage my students from watching this show as it does not accurately or responsibly portray the Deaf world and shows irresponsible plots that are not family-friendly.

This petition is to encourage ABC Family to become more responsible. To actually become a "family friendly" channel by developing and promoting family friendly content. And, with Switched At Birth, to be more responsible in how they are portraying the Deaf world to its hearing viewers. This petition also encourages individuals and families to simply say "no." Say no to irresponsible programming on a so-called "family channel." This petition encourages others to turn off their television or change the channel and to let advertisers know we won't buy products from companies that support this kind of programming.

ABC Family - Clean up your act!

This petition was delivered to:
  • ABC Family and the "Switched at Birth" series
  • ABC Family and the "Switched at Birth" series


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