President Obama didn’t miss a beat last week when he encountered a group of deaf students along a rope line after his speech at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.
“I am proud of you,” signed Stephon, a 26-year-old college student, who looked at Obama with amazement.
Obama immediately paused and signed back “thank you.”
Another deaf woman signed, “I love you,” drawing a big Obama smile.
The exchange was captured on cell phone video and posted to YouTube by one of the students.
You can view it HERE.
The moment is particularly poignant in light of Stephon’s account of the moment provided to the D.C. media and politics blog Distriction. His signed account can be viewed HERE; the written transcript he later provided later can be viewed HERE.
“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!” Stephon, who did not give his last name, told Distriction.
“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,” he said.
Obama’s re-election campaign tweeted about the encounter Tuesday night from the @BarackObama account, recounting the exchange and sharing a link to Stephon’s response.
This is not the first time Obama has used sign language with his supporters. He was seen communicating with deaf supporters during the 2008 campaign. Many of his official and political events regularly have sign-language interpreters at them.