Born to deaf parents, Ronna Wertman has been a bridge between deaf and hearing communities all her life. When her mom was in the hospital without access to appropriate interpretation services, Ronna got busy to make sure others in the deaf community would not have that same experience.
After months of calls and getting no answers to her questions, she was at a loss for what to do next. Ronna learned of a Virginia bill concerning the issue of access to effective communication in hospitals. She wrote to her state senator for his support. The bill passed, but she was concerned about how it would go into effect.
One day a friend brought a petition to church with the Virginia Organizing logo on it. That sparked a discussion and Ronna started attending the local SAW Chapter meetings with as many people as she could invite to find more ways to raise awareness.
In very little time, Ronna and other members of the deaf community—as members of Virginia Organizing—were making progress. She was invited to stakeholder meetings on the new law. This led to Chapter members meeting with administrators at Augusta Health. Two weeks after that meeting, Augusta Health gave them a firm list of steps to improve access to services.
“All of this is so much more than I could have imagined,” said Ronna. “I learned so much about the power of community organizing through this process! Virginia Organizing really does encourage and believe in the participation of people directly affected and I’m glad our local Chapter took this issue on.”
Thank you, Ronna, for raising your voice and organizing locally!