Deafness is no obstacle for Cedric Armstrong

Senior Cedric Armstrong of the Oregon School for the Deaf is playing for the Lincoln football team this year.

Friday night football games. To most, they feature the cheering and chanting of the crowd, the referees whistling, and the clash of the helmets knocking together. But for one player, the game is silent.

Cedric Armstrong plays for the Lincoln Cardinals Varsity Football Team and is also deaf. He attended the Oregon School for the Deaf, which dissolved its football team last year because of the lack of athletes. Armstrong transferred to Lincoln this year.

Armstrong was born deaf. Usually Deafness or hearing loss is hereditary but in rare cases is it random. Armstrong is one of these random cases, because no one in his family is deaf or has hearing loss.

The way that Armstrong, a senior,  communicates with the coaches and other players is simple. When he first started playing football for Lincoln, another Lincoln student, Jaycee Schafer, was his translator. Schafer and Armstrong used American Sign Language (ASL), a way that deaf or hard of hearing people communicate using hand movements, symbols and letters.

“I would be right by his side interpreting for him and for the coaches whenever it was necessary,” Schafer said. Schafer met Armstrong at a summer football game this year. Armstrong was the only deaf person there. Schafer could communicate with him because he learned ASL at Lincoln.

Schafer was intrigued by ASL when he learned a little bit from another friend, so when Lincoln started to offer it as a language class, he took it.

Mr. Malbin, the ASL teacher, and also one of the men’s JV2 soccer coaches, said, “Everyone needs different kinds of coaching for all different reasons, so this would just be one minor difference just like the rest.”

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all students have the right to access after school activities just as they have a right to activities taking place during the school day. In the past few games, Armstrong has had a professional interpreter to help him on the field.

Armstrong has not let his disability define him.