Who is Nutter's sign language interpreter?

Posted: January 24, 2014

JUST LIKE PRESIDENT Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Nutter was joined by a sign-language interpreter during his last two news conferences, but the question remains: Is he here to stay?

Everett Gillison, Nutter's deputy mayor for public safety and chief of staff, told the Daily News that having a sign-language interpreter was important during severe-weather events to better inform the public.

"This is not the first time that we have used an interpreter," Gillison said. "We see the added value in offering an interpreter depending on the event. We do not, as of yet, have a formal process for securing the services of interpreters established, but it's something we are looking into."

Josh Steckel, 37, signed for almost 40 minutes with Nutter during a blustery and snowy announcement of the weather emergency outside City Hall on Tuesday, and was again with him yesterday to convey the latest updates on the massive snowstorm that socked the city.

Originally from Bucks County, Steckel has spent the past 16 years in West Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

A child of deaf parents, he said he grew up using sign language and has passed it on to his own children.

"I grew up signing and I've been interpreting full time for six years now," Steckel said.

"If I wanted anything or wanted to communicate anything to my parents, I had to use sign language, so it was never an option. I'm really glad it improves the accessibility - that's the whole point."

The Nutter administration recruited Steckel from an agency, though it is unclear if he will be working on a contractual basis or if he'll be sticking around longer.

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