Deaf teen takes reins at internship

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, August 12, 2017

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In her time at NRS in Decatur, intern Lexi Nandin has learned how to be a cashier, fold clothes and sell menswear and tack. In exchange, she’s been teaching her coworkers sign language.

ROPING IT IN – NRS intern Lexi Nandin shows off her roping skills in the warehouse. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Nandin lost most of her hearing when she was 12, and so now she uses a hearing aide and reads lips to understand those around her. She came to NRS as part of a program through Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas that helps place young adults with disabilities in a work program. Nandin actually chose NRS specifically because her cousin and aunt used to work there. Plus, she likes the clothes.

“I bought my boots here,” she said.

For her first day at work, boss Ashley Buchanan made a list of all the things she thought would be important for Nandin to learn – the different types of tack and rope, operating the cash register, where everything was. She admitted she was a little nervous, worrying about potential communication issues.

“I didn’t want her to be by herself,” Buchanan said. “I didn’t want her to be in a sea of people.”

But Nandin quickly fit in, teaching basic signs to her colleagues. She taught them the alphabet, hello, goodbye, hungry and thirsty. They learned to talk while directly facing Nandin so she could always understand them.

“I really like the girls I work with,” Nandin said.

Buchanan said she got the signs for goodbye and hello mixed up a lot in the beginning, which they laugh about now.

“I was saying goodbye all the time,” she said.

Nandin is the first participant from the Workforce Solutions program to come to NRS, but Buchanan anticipates there will be more in the future.

“She’s paving the way,” Buchanan said.

Nandin, who will be a senior at Denton High School, enjoyed working at NRS so much that she plans to attend their job fair in October. She’d like to be hired as a cashier.

Her favorite part of the experience overall was, of course, “earning money.”

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