Saturday, August 15, 2009

Local teacher interprets president's message for deaf

Local teacher interprets president's message for deaf -, North Andover, MA

Being in the same room with the president of the United States is not something most people have the chance to do.

Being in the same room while helping to relay his message to deaf people in the audience is even more unusual. Luce Aubry, the newly hired coordinator of the deaf studies program at Northern Essex Community College, did just that this week.

Aubry was chosen to be the sign language interpreter for President Barack Obama during his town meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. At the meeting, the president talked about his plans for health care reform. Aubry translated his message for deaf and partially deaf people.

Aubry lives in Portsmouth and is one of 50 licensed interpreters for the deaf in New Hampshire. She also is listed on a database as being available for events.

Saturday night, Aubry received an e-mail from an interpreter service asking her if she would be available to sign at the event at Portsmouth High School.

"I was amazed I was available," she said, noting that it was short notice and she is busy with her duties at NECC and signing at events.

As Obama spoke, Aubry stood next to him and relayed his message.

"I was so close I had to make sure not to bump elbows with him," she said.

She said standing next to the president was "very stressful, but cool."

She didn't have the opportunity to meet or talk with Obama. There were "too many Secret Service people around him," she said.

However, she did get his autograph, she said.

Lane Glenn, vice president of academic affairs at NECC, said the college is excited to have Aubry on the staff.

"There is a desperate need for interpreters in the state of Massachusetts," Glenn said.

NECC has many students who want to become interpreters. The college works with other colleges to teach sign language and is a regional center for those studies.

"She will bring tremendous experience as an educator and interpreter," Glenn said.

Obama's event was not the first time Aubry has been asked to sign for a major political figure. During the 2008 presidential primary in New Hampshire, she interpreted for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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