Here is an article detailing an episode of The Smurfs Adventures entitled "Smurfing in Sign Language".
You can find the original page here.
Papa Smurf, demonstrating a universally understood sign language symbol for "I Love You".
(Notice: This was released in December, 1983)
HANNA-BARBERA STORY EDITOR HELPS "SMURFS" USE SIGN LANGUAGE IN SPECIAL EPISDODE
"Smurfing in Sign Language," an episode of "The Smurfs" which first aired on NBC-TV on December 24, 1983 proved to be a milestone in programming for deaf children. (This episode repeated on March 31, 1984.)
The program was written by "Smurf" story editor Patsy Cameron (an interpreter for the deaf) and John Bates. In the story, Poet Smurf must recite his poem for spring but is rendered speechless by an evil spell. The Smurfs learn sign language from a mute wood elf, enabling them to understand Poet's recital. The lessons are simple and presented so the viewers can learn the symbols.
"Smurfing in Sign Language" was widely praised by organizations for the deaf as an effective means of bridging the gap between hearing and non-hearing persons and the wood elf Laconia as a delightful role model for deaf children.
Cameron, who says sign language is a beautiful, and universally understood form of communication, worked closely animators as they illustrated the signs.
"I love using sign language," Said Cameron, "It makes me happy to teach other this wonderful skills."
"One of the symbols we will demonstrate in this episode includes the sign of the cat, so the Smurfs can warn each other about Azrael without the cat hearing them. Another important one is the symbol for 'I Love You' which is the thought expressed in every Smurf episode we write."
Cameron learned sign language as a child when she lived next to a family whose children were deaf. She wrote former President Jimmy Carter upon her election and expressed her sorrow that deaf citzens would not be able to understand his inaugural address. The President invited her to the White House to be the inaugural interpreter before a live audience and for those watching on television.
She was the interpreter for Pope John Paul II when he addressed the masses in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in 1979.
Cameron was hired as one of Hanna-Barbera's youngest female writers in 1979 at the age of 20. She became the studio's first female story in 1983 on "The Smurfs" series with Ted Anasti and producer, Gerard Baldwin.
"The Smurfs," which debuted in 1981, deals with meaningful, thought-provoking subjects for children such ad death, greed and leadership.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera are executive producers. Hanna-Barbera is a division of Teco.
A Note from Tami: I was in the college during the 1980's, and I was watching "The Smurfs" one Saturday morning (I'm such a big kid ) when this episode was aired. I was so interested that I contacted the Hanna-Barbera Productions a couple of weeks later and received black and white photos and press releases from them concerning this sign language episode. I had them in my possession for years before deciding to post them on the internet for the benefit of Deaf audience.
I believe Gallaudet University has a videotape of this episode (open captioned) in its library archive for anyone desiring to view it. That is all I know. And all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including The Smurfs, are now the property of the Ted Turner Company and can be seen on the Cartoon Network on the cable.
What a smurfy article!