Obama Uses Sign Language with Deaf Student

President Obama signs "Thank you" to deaf student at recent event on March 15.

Deafness and sign language are clearly on our minds a lot these days as we rehearse with deaf and hearing actors for our upcoming signed/spoken production of Cyrano. No wonder this story caught our eye:

On March 15, a deaf Washington-area college student named Stephon was standing in line after an event on energy policy with President Obama and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, waiting for a chance to shake hands with the president. As the president was shaking hands and making his way through the crowd, he met up with Stephon, who was born deaf.

Stephon signed to the president:  “I am proud of you.”

Not missing a beat, President Obama signed back: “Thank you.”

Another deaf student then signed to the president, “I love you.” The president smiled back at her and shook her hand.

Watch the Video:

For Stephon, communicating with the President in sign language was an overwhelming experience:

“The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing… I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him.” 

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