Monday, August 27, 2007

Farewell to Frank Bowe (March 29, 1947-August 21, 2007)

By Cheryl Heppner, 8/23/07

Within minutes of arriving at the TDI conference, I learned thatDr. Frank G. Bowe had died earlier in the day at the age of 60. His death is a stunning blow for advocates of people with disabilities. Frank was at the forefront of many of our majorpieces of disability legislation.

Frank was one of my role models and I will miss his wise counsel. I always felt a connection with him because we both became deaf at a young age, had roots as journalists, and were drawn to the disability rights movement. I met him for the first time 25 years ago. He was my version of a rock star! Our paths have crossed manytimes since, and during the past two years I worked with him on several advocacy projects that included attempts to make broadband more widely available and affordable, and the successful DVD captioning lawsuit by Russ Boltz.

I searched the Internet for something that could begin to justiceto Frank, and finally settled on an entry about him in Wikipedia. Here are excerpts:

"Dr. Bowe was the Dr. Mervin Livingston Schloss DistinguishedProfessor for the Study of Disabilities at Hofstra University. As a disability rights activist, author, and teacher, he has strung together a series of firsts:

"Dr. Bowe was the first executive director (CEO) of the firstnational cross-disability consumer advocacy organization, theAmerican Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD). TheCoalition's signature achievement was securing the long-delayedimplementation of Section 504, the world's first civil-rightsprovision for persons with disabilities. Bowe conceived and led the nationwide protest that led to issuance of landmarkregulations for Section 504 in 1977. A year later, he wrote the first full-length text on social policy and disability,Handicapping America (Harper & Row). In 1980, Dr. Bowe was the first person with a disability to represent any nation in the planning of the United Nations (UN) International Year of DisabledPersons (IYDP-1981). Today, many countries are represented in keyUN committees by persons who themselves are individuals with disabilities, including 14 who are, as Bowe is, deaf.

"In the mid-1980s, he chaired the U.S. Congress Commission on Education of the Deaf. COED made 52 recommendations for improving education and rehabilitation, many of which have had long-lasting effects. What is not well-known about that work is that he was, in1986-1988, a highly visible chairperson who was deaf and who appointed deaf persons as COED staff director and chief counsel.COED issued a public draft of its final report in January 1988. The example he and COED set was not lost on the students at Gallaudet University across town when, in March 1988, they launched their famous Deaf President Now protest.

"Section 504 led, in 1990, to the Americans with Disabilities Act. That same year, Dr. Bowe was the principal architect of theTelevision Decoder Circuitry Act, which was sponsored in theSenate by Tom Harkin (D-IA) and in the House by Ed Markey (D-MA).The act requires that TV sets receive and display closed captions.The 1996 Telecommunications Act took it a step further, mandating that broadcast and cable programs themselves be captioned. Morerecently, in 2005 and 2006, Bowe gave invited testimony before theU.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and conducted demonstrations of high-speed broadband communications for both the House and the U.S. Senate.

"Dr. Bowe's textbooks are in use at colleges and universities around the country and in several other nations. Making InclusionWork (Prentice Hall) and Early Childhood Special Education(Thomson Delmar Learning) are two examples. He is also author ofUniversal Design in Education (Greenwood Publishing), of the encyclopedia entries on deafness and disabilities in Scholastic'sNew Book of Knowledge, and of several hundred articles inprofessional journals in public policy, special education,rehabilitation, and technology.

"In Disability in America 2006, a policy paper addressing healthcare, employment, and entitlements, Bowe outlined disabilitypolicy goals for 2006-2008. Disability advocates concerned abouthealth insurance coverage for individuals with disabilities whocould work are excited about the possibilities he suggests.

"Frank earned his doctorate at New York University, his master'sdegree at Gallaudet University, and bachelor's degree at Western Maryland College. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws byGallaudet University and he appeared in many Who's Who publications. He was selected as an Outstanding Scholar of the20th Century and received a Distinguished Service Award fromPresident George H.W. Bush in 1992. Frank always thought big picture. He wanted to change the world.He had a vision for what it should become and the principles andwork ethic to keep pushing that vision. "America handicapsdisabled people." he wrote.

"And because that is true, we arehandicapping America itself." America has lost a lion but there ishope that the cubs inspired by his work will grow stronger.

SOURCE: Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard ofHearing Persons (NVRC)

Press Press Release: Hosfra University

Hofstra University Mourns the Loss Of Dr. Frank Bowe, LongtimeProfessor And Renowned Champion of People with Disabilities.

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY - Frank Bowe, Ph.D, LL.D, aprofessor of counseling, research, special education andrehabilitation (CRSR) in Hofstra University's School of Educationand Allied Human Services, passed away on August 21, 2007. He was60 years old. He had served on the faculty since 1989 and held theDr. Mervin Livingston Schloss Distinguished Professorship for theStudy of Disabilities. In 2005, 2006 and during the spring of2007, he served as acting chair of Hofstra's CRSR Department.

Dr. Bowe was a nationally recognized champion for the rights of people with disabilities and a highly regarded and prolific researcher in this area. On the Hofstra campus he was celebrated for his excellent teaching skills and for being a professor whobrought warmth, humor and unwavering dedication to the classroom.

"Dr. Bowe was a prominent scholar and advocate for Americans with disabilities, as well as a caring and outstanding teacher," saidHofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz. "There are many Hofstraalumni and current students who credit Dr. Bowe with opening theireyes to the rewards of teaching and of working with special needsstudents. In 1996 he won the University's Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor based on the recommendation of graduating seniorswho regarded the opportunity to study with Dr. Bowe as atransforming experience."

"Frank Bowe will be missed very much by his students, our alumni and his colleagues. He set an example of compassion and excellenceto which we should all aspire."

Dr. Bowe received a Ph.D. in 1976 from New York University; an M.A. in 1971 from Gallaudet University; and a B.A. in 1969 fromWestern Maryland College. Before joining the faculty at Hofstra, Dr. Bowe served as a regional commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration. From 1984to 1986 he was the chairman of the U.S. Congress Commission onEducation of the Deaf.

Dr. Bowe is perhaps best known for his leadership as executive director of the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities from 1976 to 1981. He was the organization's first executiveofficer, and provided crucial direction during the nationwide sit-in regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1977, theworld's first civil-rights provision for persons withdisabilities, which eventually led to the American Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.

In 1980 Dr. Bowe, who was deaf, became the first person with a disability to represent any nation in the planning of the United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons. For more than two decades Dr. Bowe had been a consultant to the U.S. Congress on a variety of issues. In 1992 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the President for his lifetime achievement. In 1994 hewas inducted into the National Hall of Fame for People withDisabilities. He is also credited as one of the architects ofprovisions in the 1996 Telecommunications Act that have greatly enhanced the quality of life for Americans with disabilities.

Dr. Bowe's teaching at Hofstra focused on inclusion, technology in education and meeting K-12 special needs students. Outside theclassroom, he tirelessly researched how all of society not justschools can better accommodate people with disabilities.

His latest study, released in September 2006, revealed that Americans with disabilities the nation's third largest minorityare the least likely of any population within the country toachieve the American dream. Dr. Bowe reported that more than aquarter of this demographic live in poverty (75% earn less than$20,000 annually) and fewer than half have private healthinsurance. His research found that many adults with disabilitiessubsist on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) andSupplemental Security Income (SSI), and although the monthly funds received from those programs provide barely livable wages, the benefit of Medicare and/or Medicaid is something this populationcannot do without.

Dr. Bowe also examined education in this study and found thatdespite measures to level the playing field, educational opportunity for students with disabilities and those without isnot parallel. While the typical 9-year-old would be in the 4thgrade, a 9-year-old student with disabilities is more than half likely (61%) to be in the third grade. Among high school students,the vast majority of 15-year-old students with disabilities are not with their same age peers in the 10th grade but in 9th or 8thgrades.Dr. Bowe authored another paper that was released in 2005 by Rep. Fred Upton (R, MI), chairman of the Subcommittee onTelecommunications and the Internet, Energy and CommerceCommittee, U.S. House of Representatives. The paper, titled Two-Way Technologies: A History of the Struggle to Communicate,explored how people who are deaf, who are blind, who have cerebralpalsy, or who have mental retardation have communicated over thepast 40 years and how public policy (federal laws, orders of theFederal Communication Commission, etc.) has alternately led andlagged technology.

Dr. Bowe had a deep impact on his students and maintained closeties with many of them after graduation. He was truly aninspiration to students, fellow faculty and public officials. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, and daughters Doran and Whitney.