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Journalism professor talks television with the New York Times

Beth Haller

Beth Haller leads an honors class at Towson.

Beth Haller, a professor in the Towson University College of Fine Arts and Communication, recently sat down with the New York Times to discuss the impact of a new, groundbreaking television show.

Produced by ABC Family, “Switched at Birth” this week became the first ever to broadcast entirely in American Sign Language, with very little oral dialogue. Captioning provided translation for viewers, and worked to draw in their attention.

From the story:

“The almost silent episode (there was still a musical score) mostly held its own in the Monday night ratings, much to the satisfaction of advocates for the deaf and hard-of-hearing population in the country.

‘Who knew a teen show on ABC Family could be so cutting edge?’ said Beth Haller, a journalism professor at Towson University in Maryland, who has studied media portrayals of people with disabilities for two decades. She found ‘Switched at Birth’ so significant that she presented an academic paper about it last fall. …

‘Even as far back as Episode 2, the producers have been prepping the audience to watch a show with lots of character dialogue in sign language,’ Ms. Haller said, since that episode ‘explored how lip reading doesn’t work well for most deaf people.’”

Read the full New York Times story here.


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