Tomorrow’s episode of Big City Greens will feature something new for the show, American Sign Language. Nonprofit organization RespectAbility spoke with the creators and their Deaf consulting team about the episode and making sure it offered authentic deaf representation.
- The Green family is headed to the local library in the “Quiet Please” episode of Disney Channel’s Big City Greens airing on September 19th.
- While the Green family will certainly display their personal brand of wackiness, they’ll also learn a few new things in this episode.
- According to RespectAbility.org, the show will feature authentic deaf representation as the family uses American Sign Language (ASL).
- To make sure that the animated portrayal of ASL was authentic and accurate, the show’s creators brought in three Deaf and ASL consultants:
- Delbert Whetter, a Deaf film producer and consultant
- Jevon Whetter, a Deaf actor, filmmaker and ASL dialogue coach
- Justin Maurer, an ASL interpreter who is a “CODA” (a child of deaf adults)
- The trio offered suggestions, provided feedback, and helped the Greens team avoid any faux pas such as mistakenly drawing an offensive sign that closely resembles something much more innocent.
- On Wednesday, September 30th, RespectAbility will host a live virtual event with show’s creators Chris and Shane Houghton, and Consultants Delbert and Jevon Whetter and Justin Maurer. The event will be held at 4:00 pm ET / 1:00 pm PT. It’s free to attend and there will be live captions and an ASL interpreter.
About “Quiet Please:”
- In the episode, the family is trying to help Cricket find a book he’ll actually enjoy reading so they decide to visit the library. While there, a stern librarian (voiced by Linda Hamilton) threatens to kick them out if they’re too loud. Big sister Tilly, spots two deaf library patrons communicating in ASL which sparks an idea. The family can talk by signing! While Tilly is the only one of the Green’s who knows ASL, she encourages her family to use charade-like hand gestures to communicate.
- “Quiet Please” premieres on Saturday, September 19 at 8:00 pm ET/PT on Disney Channel.
What They’re Saying:
- Shane Houghton on working with the Whetters and Maurer: “They allowed us to film them reciting the lines in ASL from different angles so our board artists were able to translate their gestures into animation. They performed the lines at full speed and half speed, so we could catch all the small movements that make a particular sign work.”
- Delbert Whetter on the experience: “One of the great things about working with the Big City Greens team was how open they were to incorporating our suggestions and ideas very early on in the creative process. They laid out the entire outline of the story on storyboards around the room and walked us through the episode, soliciting our suggestions along the way. They then made changes to the story to take advantage of creative opportunities that arose during our collaboration.”
- Jevon Whetter on the Green family only having four fingers: “We were aware of the use of four fingers by the characters and it wasn’t a problem for us. We made sure that we used more ‘unmarked’ ASL handshapes that are more easily rendered in 2-D, instead of relying on ‘marked ASL handshapes,’ which tend to be more challenging for animation.”
- Justin Maurer on their team strengths: “What makes our team so special is that Del has a wealth of animation experience, Jevon a wealth of acting, directing, and teaching experience, and in my back pocket I have my experiences of growing up with a Deaf mom and my years working as a freelance ASL Interpreter. That’s what makes us a dream team, it’s a trifecta.”
- Shane Houghton on writing characters with disabilities: “They always say ‘write what you know.’ But there is something valuable to pushing outside your comfort zone and learning and expanding ‘what you know….’ It wasn’t easy to do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.”