“SignTasTic! game show featuring sign language, shot in Pittsburgh

A unique new game show aimed at raising awareness of American Sign Language and the deaf community is being filmed in Pittsburgh.

Each episode of the show, dubbed “SignTasTic!”, features two contestants who must learn 50 sign language words before the show. The show then tests how well they’ve learned those words through activities like quizzes and charades that all revolve around American Sign Language.

The host, Dan Cook, and the performers involved in the show are all deaf. Competitors are not deaf but learn sign language words through play.

“It focuses on deaf and hearing people. It brings the two worlds together,” Cook said through an interpreter.

Cook said he hopes the show will encourage people to learn sign language so they can communicate better with people in the deaf community, breaking down the “invisible barrier between the hearing and deaf worlds”.

Cook, a Pittsburgh native, has a master’s degree in American Sign Language and teaches as an American Sign Language teacher at CCAC.

He developed the idea for the show with Silent Visual Media owners David S. Keinath and Heather Gray. Gray is also the show’s executive director and co-host.

Cook said he thought the show was the first in television history to revolve around sign language.

“We are really in uncharted territory,” he said.

The initial production budget was approximately $1.2 million.

Details on when and where the show will air have not been announced. The show has not yet sold out and is not in distribution.


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Putting on the show with a crew that includes about 10 deaf people was a unique experience, Gray said.

“The entertainment industry hasn’t always been disability-friendly,” she said.

To overcome this, the team made some on-set adjustments to make sure Deaf performers felt welcome. They use two teleprompters – one in standard English and one with American Sign Language, which is written differently from English. They have sign language interpreters and a sign language coach on set.

The show aims to prove that deaf people have a place in the entertainment industry and to teach people sign language in a fun and accessible way.

The final two episodes of the initial 11-episode production of “SignTasTic!” were filmed Friday at WQED Studios in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They use the studio that once housed “Mister Rogers’ neighborhood,” Gray said.

“It’s so special. I think all the values ​​we stand for are Mr. Rogers’ values,” Gray said. “We accept everyone, come as you are. We were all made different so that we could learn from each other.

Stephanie Paris, a contestant from Cleveland, said she learned a lot from participating in the game show.

“It’s really cool to be able to learn the signs. I can’t say I’ve learned (sign language) yet, but I know 100 words and I want to keep learning,” Paris said.

Although Paris said it was stressful trying to memorize signs for the show, she was thrilled to finally learn sign language, something she had always wanted to do.

Plus, participating in a game show had been a lifelong dream, she said.

This particular show, Paris said, proves that the entertainment industry can evolve to be more diverse and inclusive.

“It shows that we don’t have to do everything like we always have,” she said.

Paris was competing with Lamont Richmond of Cleveland to see who mastered the signs best. In each episode, there is $5,000 at stake for contestants.

Richmond said he loved being on camera, but the most rewarding part of being on the show was “learning something new and showing the world it can be done.”

National game show producer Silent Visual Media LLC has been filming the show for about a month. The team producing the show includes producers Leigh Hampton, who worked on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Hollywood Game Night” and other shows, and Jared Bierylo, who worked on “Hogwarts Tournament of Houses. “, “Are You Smarter More than a CM2 student?” and other productions.

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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