By April Bell
April is a junior at Lincoln Park High School. She’s a student reporter for The Mash, a weekly teen publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.
ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth” centers around Daphne Vasquez and Bay Kennish, two girls who were switched at birth, and the complications their families face. And Daphne is deaf — as if being switched at birth isn’t dramatic enough.
I’m hearing impaired, so I was excited when I heard about the show — finally, a show about hearing impaired teens! I want people to understand the lives of deaf and hearing-impaired teens, and I thought “Switched at Birth” is perfect.
Sure, some of the plot lines are overly dramatic and often silly, with episode after episode of characters fighting over small things. However, the show’s portrayal of deaf teens’ loneliness and struggles to fit in is dead-on. Daphne and I have similar experiences; I’m not deaf, but I studied lip reading and I have to compensate in difficult situations. Like Daphne, I have really supportive friends, but it’s hard for me to follow conversations in loud places or parties, so I still feel left out once in a while.
“Switched at Birth” shows people how hard it is for Daphne and me — although we may make it look easy — to keep up with the rest of the world. When walking around with a friend, I often have trouble hearing what they’re saying, as Daphne does in the show. Daphne prefers chatting one-on-one, as do I, because it’s easier to keep track of the conversation.
The major problem I have is that I need people to repeat what they say a lot, and sometimes after three times, they get frustrated. Daphne has this same problem — oftentimes she’ll need something repeated in a dark room because it’s difficult to read lips.
Daphne also has met some people who give her a hard time because they don’t understand that she needs help. This is also well portrayed because I face the same problem almost every day and just have to learn to live with it. “Switched at Birth” showcases all these situations well.
But the show also shows how Daphne is still a normal teenager who knows how to have fun: She watches movies and hangs out with her friends. This is why I love the show — it shows that Daphne and I can both do the same things as everyone else does; we just do them a little differently.