Mayor Nutter has been so much in front of cameras the last few days, discussing City Hall’s response to Janus, that a key member of his team has emerged into the public consciousness: Josh Steckel is the mayor’s sign language interpreter, and his live appearances at Nutter’s side have drawn widespread attention.
“Both of my parents were deaf and I also have two sets of aunts and uncles that are deaf,” Steckel said. “Just like kids who grow up with parents who speak a foreign language as their first language, by default you are an interpreter when you are out with them.”
Neil McDevitt, executive director of the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre, estimates about 10,000 people use sign language as their main means of communication in the greater Philadelphia region.
Not only does the presence of an interpreter during the city’s press conferences provide access to the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, it shows the entire Delaware Valley that it is essential to include those communities in any communication, he said.
“A sign language interpreter on screen and right next to the mayor shows that the city and the mayor take that responsibility very seriously,” he said.
Expect to see more Steckel: AccuWeather is predicting more snow for Philadelphia on Monday.