Obama thanks deaf supporter in sign language

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Good News

A simple one-sentence exchange with the U.S. president has gone viral.

"A chance encounter with a deaf student shows the president may not be perfect — but he knows how to communicate," wrote Salon.com's Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Stephon Williams, a 26-year-old deaf student, was seated in the VIP section at an energy policy event where the president was speaking in Largo, Maryland, on March 15th.

During a meet-and-greet, Obama stopped to shake Williams' hand. Williams spoke to him in his first language, signing "I am proud of you" to the president.

Without hesitating, Obama responded in American Sign Language: "Thank you."

Their short interaction was captured on video.

The awed and "speechless" supporter recounted his version of events in a YouTube video:

"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 and know that he will have my vote and he will win second term without a doubt. Yeah, I feel safe to have him for another term."

Read the entire translation at Distriction here.

Salon.com reminds us that Obama impressed with a simple signed phrase on the campaign trail four years ago.

Looks like Obama's not the only one in his household who knows some basic American Sign Language.