POINTS, W.Va. – Delegate Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, has received the West Virginia Association of the Deaf’s prestigious President Award in recognition for her efforts to advance legislation that benefits the state’s deaf citizens.
Rowan received the award earlier this month at the association’s biennial conference.
“The WVAD President Award is the highest honor given to an individual who has generously contributed their time to WVAD and/or the deaf community,” said John Burdette, the association’s president. “We are very proud of Delegate Rowan and feel very fortunate to have her as our important ally.”
Burdette said Delegate Rowan has sponsored legislation important to improving conditions for the state’s deaf children. In 2016, Delegate Rowan sponsored the Deaf Children’s Bill of Rights Act (House Bill 4485). This year, she sponsored the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids Act (House Bill 2571), also known as LEAD-K – which unanimously passed the House of Delegates.
Burdette said the Association of the Deaf is especially concerned with preventing language deprivation for children 5 and younger. He said the LEAD-K program would help ensure these children have the language skills necessary to be kindergarten ready.
“I want to emphasize how important it is to have a hearing person as our ally,” Burdette said. “She deserved this special award for all her hard work and dedication to the bill in the Legislature and her dedication to the deaf community. We are very proud of Delegate Rowan and feel very fortunate to have her as our important ally.”
Delegate Rowan, who also has a long history of advocating legislation to benefit the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind, said she was honored to be recognized for her work.
“I was surprised to receive this award during the conference this year, and as they presented it to me it brought tears to my eyes,” Delegate Rowan said. “The deaf and blind community is very dear to my heart. As the grandmother of a child who is hard of hearing, I know how important it is to have adequate resources available to these citizens and their families. I am honored to receive this prestigious award for the work we’ve done to help advance their cause.”
While the LEAD-K legislation passed the House, it did not pass the state Senate. Delegate Rowan said she will continue to advocate for the bill in next year’s legislative session.