Beaufort, SC (WSAV) – Whale Branch Early College High School got a very important phone call last week. It was from The White House, tracking down a student who penned a letter to President Barack Obama. “It was shocking to know that he read it,” 18-year-old Ambriance Lamar said through voice-to-text on her iPhone. Lamar is catching the attention of the nation’s president and making people everywhere stop and think about what exactly she has to say. “I thought of myself and put myself in the situation and have thought about others like me,” the voice on her phone said after she typed. Throughout her message Lamar hasn’t even uttered a word. “She had a stroke and was paralyzed the whole left side,” her mother Lorna explained. Lamar’s world forever changed after contracting West Nile virus from a mosquito bite when she was two years old. Since then, sign language and technology have been her voice. “She advocates for herself every day in every way,” her school counselor Kimberly Brown said. But the deadly shooting by police of an unarmed deaf man in North Carolina last year made Lamar decide to speak a little louder. Through an interpreter she told us why:
“I was afraid for myself and all the people like myself who use sign language,” she said. Lamar went straight to the top, writing a letter to President Obama. “She just asked me for a stamp,” Lamar’s mother said, adding that Lamar wrote it all by herself. A paper card issued by the SCDMV is all Lamar has to show an officer she can’t talk back. On the card “non-verbal” is written in ink pen. She’s lobbying for a system where police are flagged of the disability right when they run the driver’s tag. “I want police to know why I can’t talk and why I use hand gestures,” she stated. As a new driver herself, the North Carolina incident caused fear in Lamar that an officer could mistake her sign language or her grabbing her phone as not complying. She explained this in her letter to the president- and he listened. His staff called her high school last week, asking for Lamar’s permission for her letter to go on the president’s website.to post the letter for all the world to see. She sees it as a sign of hope that leaders might listen to the most quiet voices. Besides now drafting legislation with her history teacher– Lamar is busy narrowing down her college choices. Her major is decided, though—American Sign Language.