Lydia Callis and Ice Age and Santa….Oh My!

Katie and Bill on set

What’s happening lately?  ASL and Sign Language Interpreters and Deaf Awareness is becoming so “trendy”.  Let’s take a look at recent happenings. 

ABC Family’s award-winning original series, “Switched At Birth,” will produce an episode told entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), a first for a scripted series on mainstream television, which will premiere Monday, March 4 at 8:00PM ET/PT. 

The special episode will be told from the perspective of the series’ multiple deaf characters – with open captions for hearing viewers – in a storyline that puts the audience in the middle of a student uprising in which the very essence of their deaf identity is at stake. Now in its second season, “Switched At Birth” is the first mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing series regulars and scenes shot entirely in ASL. 

Series Creator and Executive Producer Lizzy Weiss says “I’ve been wanting to do an all-ASL episode since the series began, and the storyline we’ve been focusing on this season gave us the perfect opportunity. It’s an exciting, visual, empowering story of kids who are different fighting back, and it allows our audience to experience the world as our deaf characters do. We’ve been building to this for 39 episodes and we’re all thrilled to be the first to try this.”

Sony is working with American theater chain Regal Entertainment to introduce a new kind of glasses technology that can display closed captions for deaf and hard of hearing customers. The new Access Glasses can show text in six different languages, which is then placed directly in the viewer’s field of vision so that they don’t have to constantly look at the bottom of the screen. The information is streamed wirelessly, and the location of the text can be adjusted to make things more comfortable. The glasses also include features for the blind or visually impaired, as they can be used alongside headphones to provide extra audio detail about just what’s happening on screen.

Regal — the largest theater chain in the US —expects to have them available in “practically all of its fully digitized theater locations” by early 2013.

This year, we’ve discovered that Santa has excellent skills in Sign Language! Who knew?  Several signing Santa sightings hit the news. Santa showed up at the media event for ‘Ice Age – Continental Drift’ and was accompanied by 10 interpreters to keep everybody in the loop.

Speaking of Ice Age – Continental Drift, we have a first from 20th Century Fox! Interpreters actually appear on screen (instead of captions) signing the dialogue so that the deaf audience can better understand what’s happening on screen. This is available on Blu-Ray so families can watch it at home as well. Our very own CEO was a key participant in helping get this project off the ground and we are obviously proud to play a part in another “first”.

And then we have Lydia Callis. On a day when so many surreal images and news updates were filling the screens and airwaves for those tracking the latest on Hurricane Sandy, there was one surprising star born – Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter.

Television and livestream viewers of Bloomberg’s press conferences found themselves listening to the mayor’s words, but transfixed by Lydia Callis’s  animated signing.

Callis, who has gone viral, turned the usually understated practice of signing into first-class performance art, acting out the mayor’s message to New Yorkers. It was reportedly her first time interpreting at a press conference.

The Internet’s newest sensation is also the recipient of numerous marriage proposals on Twitter. You just never know when instant stardom is just around the corner. Once again, awareness is a beautiful thing.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

View all posts by Evelyn

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