Sign language interpreter plays vital role bringing information to hearing impaired during pandemic

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The sign language interpreter for Governor Hutchinson’s daily COVID-19 press conferences has made quite the splash on social media. Even with the attention, he says it’s not about him. It’s about the message he’s trying to relay.

In a time where information is crucial, it’s not always the loudest voice in the room that gets the message across. You may notice Eddie Schmeckenbecher as the guy just steps from the podium or the guy bringing a little pop of color to the daily COVID-19 updates with his tie of the day. 

“They want to see what tie I’m wearing but when they see it they go ‘oh cool tie’ and then they just watch what I’m signing,” Schmeckenbecher said.

For those who aren’t able to listen to the state leaders, however, he’s the guy bringing their words to life.

“For me to stand here is a very humbling experience,” Schmeckenbecher said.

Helping those who can’t hear, understand what’s being said is something he’s done for more than 40 years.

“When I started this it was at church interpreting for the preacher and that was it,” Schmeckenbecher said.

On this stage, the stakes are the highest.

“From that point to now, I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me that, ‘You’ll be standing beside the Governor interpreting,’” Schmeckenbecher said.

During a pandemic unlike any other, he plays a vital role in bringing the latest information to those hearing impaired in real time. 

“My goal is to have people understand what the Governor says,” Schmeckenbecher said.

Don’t try and give him the credit though, he’ll just tell you he’s just the guy serving on the sidelines.

“I’m very careful to say ‘the interpreter’ and not Eddie all the time,” Schmeckenbecher said.

Schmeckenbecher has been the Governor’s interpreter for the last two years. He says it’s an honor to do this. He also commends Hutchinson’s leadership and making sure those who are hearing impaired get all the information they need.

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