Gallaudet airs new commercial during “Switched at Birth” episode inspired by Deaf President Now


Gallaudet University will air a new nationwide television commercial on Monday, March 4 during the hit ABC Family show, Switched at Birth. The show follows the lives of two teenage girls who discovered they were switched at birth; one is deaf and one is hearing. The show also features several prominent deaf and hard of hearing characters who use American Sign Language (ASL). Monday’s episode is entirely in ASL with open captions, a first for a scripted series on mainstream television, according to the network. The episode airs at 8 p.m. EST.

During the episode, the fictional Carlton School for the Deaf faces closure and the students advocate to keep their school open. The storyline was inspired by the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement at Gallaudet in March 1988, which ushered in the first deaf president of the world’s only liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing students. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of DPN, Gallaudet released a new commercial highlighting the key moments during the week of DPN. The commercial will run two times during the one-hour program, at 8:20 and 8:40 p.m. Click here to preview the commercial.

“It is wonderful Switched at Birth chose this pivotal moment in history to share with their viewers,” said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz. “Over the past 25 years, DPN has symbolized self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people around the world. It showed the world that deaf people can do anything.”

The DPN movement was sparked on March 6, 1988, when Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees selected the lone hearing candidate over two deaf candidates to become the university’s seventh president. Over the following eight days, Gallaudet students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the deaf community at large, banded together and marched on Capitol Hill, participated in demonstrations and rallies, and gave inspirational speeches advocating for deaf representation at the highest levels of the university. The events led to worldwide support for the selection of a deaf president as well as international media coverage. On March 13, 1988, the University’s Board of Trustees appointed Dr. I. King Jordan as Gallaudet’s first deaf president.

The commercial also invites prospective students to visit Gallaudet’s Washington, D.C. campus during its Spring Open House dates on March 29 and April 19. Click here for more information about Gallaudet’s Open Houses.

Throughout the spring semester, Gallaudet is celebrating the 25th anniversary of DPN with a series of lectures, presentations, panel discussions, and films. For a full list of events, click here.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.                             

Kaitlin Luna, Coordinator of Media and Public Relations
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