Switched at Birth

Switched at Birth/ABC Family(Freeform)/2011-2017 (Deaf)

Daphne Paloma Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) a hearing-impaired teenager who attends Carlton School for the Deaf in Kansas City, Missouri. Born October 22, 1995, she lives with her single mother Regina (Constance Marie) and grandmother Adriana (Ivonne Coll) in the low-income, working-class neighborhood of East Riverside, Missouri.

switched-at-birth-daphne

Daphne lost her hearing at the age of three by contracting meningitis. Her dad Angelo Sorrento left her when she lost her hearing. Daphne speaks with a deaf accent.

Now here is the twist. Daphne is actually the biological daughter of John and Kathryn Kennish. She was switched at birth due to a hospital error. The mistake was discovered by Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), the other switched baby who conducted a genetic blood type test during a school lab assignment. The results confirmed her AB blood did not belong to her parents.

After the discovery, the Kennishes, who live in the wealthy Kansas City suburb of Mission Hills, Kansas, invite Daphne, their true biological daughter, and her family to move into a guest house on their estate so the two polar-opposite groups can become acquainted with each and allow their two teenage girls to bond.

switched-at-birth-cast

Regina & Daphne Vasquez / Bay, Kathryn, John, & Toby Kennish

Other hearing-impaired friends and acquaintances include:

  • Emmett Bledsoe (Sean Berdy), Daphne’s friend who is deaf. They have been best friends since the age of eight.
  • Melody Bledsoe (Marlee Maitlin), Emmett’s mother and Regina’s friend who is also deaf. She is a guidance counselor and Deaf Studies teacher at Carlton.
  • Noah (Max Lloyd-Jones), a new student in the pilot hearing program at Carlton.  He is suffering from Ménière’s disease and slowly losing his hearing . His uncle is also deaf.  For a time, he was Bay’s boyfriend until he went to Canada for the summer.
  • Travis Barnes (Ryan Lane), another of Daphne’s deaf friends. He lives with Emmett and Melody Bledsoe. He is Daphne’s ex-boyfriend. A former janitor, he works at Kennish Car Wash.
  • Garrett Banducci (Nyle DiMarco), a student at the Carlton who takes a romantic interest in Bay.
  • Matthew (Daniel Durant), a gay, deaf boy at Carlton who is interested in Emmett.

switched-at-birth-campbell-daphne

For a time, Daphne dates Campbell Bingman (RJ Mitte), a pre-med student in a wheelchair who volunteers at the free clinic where Daphne is serving her community service hours.


Note: According to ABC Family, SWITCHED AT BIRTH was “the first mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing series regulars and scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language (ASL).

The Carlton School for the Deaf seen on the program was inspired by the real life Marlton School in Los Angeles.

Actress Katie Leclerc is hard of hearing rather than deaf as portrayed on the program. She learned to use American Sign Language (ASL) at age 17. Three years later she was diagnosed with  Ménière’s disease (an inner ear disorder) which runs in her family.

On episode No. 9  Daphne dreams she was not switched at birth and was raised as Bay Kennish who could hear. Episode 15 of season 2, “Ecce Mono” featured an an alternative reality Daphne who was raised by the Kennishes from age three. They arranged to get a cochlear implant to improve her hearing.

The episode “Uprising” (aired March 4, 2013) featured a student-led protest surrounding the closure of Carlton School for the Deaf. The program, which echoed a real life “Deaf President Now” protests at Gallaudet University 25 years earlier, was produced almost entirely in sign language.

 

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