Josh Steckel, 37, was brought into the spotlight this past Tuesday during several press conferences where Mayor Michael Nutter addressed the city after Tuesday’s snow storm. While the Mayor spoke, Steckel stood next to him, translating the speech to American Sign Language (ASL) for the deaf and hearing impaired.
Steckel, who has a national interpreter certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, grew up not only with deaf parents, but with several aunts and uncles who were also deaf. Although he’s been interpreting and translating for his family since he was a child, he decided to pursue the education he needed to become an official interpreter.
While working full-time as a teacher, Steckel took evening courses at Community College of Philadelphia where he went on to earn his certification in 2007. Since then, he has become a full-time interpreter.
Steckel’s appearance at the Mayor’s conference brought attention to the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The presence of an ASL interpreter made a visible statement that accessibility and inclusiveness of the hearing-impaired community is a priority.
Says Steckel, “A sign language interpreter on screen and right next to the mayor shows that the city and the mayor take that responsibility very seriously.” Steckel is just one of the many Community College of Philadelphia alumni who have gone on to serve and give back to the Philadelphia community. Visit NBC 10 for full coverage of the story.