Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.

So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language.

“I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.

“Thank you,” Obama replied.