|06-08-2009, 01:49 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Lewisburg deaf boy grew into an activist
The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA - Lewisburg deaf boy grew into an activist
Frank G. Bowe was born March 29, 1947, in Danville. He lost his hearing at age 3. As a youngster, he struggled through school in Lewisburg, the only deaf child in his class. His mother, Catherine “Kitty” Bowe, often intervened on his behalf. His father, the late Frank Bowe, took over a Little League team so Frank could play softball. A consultation with a psychologist marked a turning point in young Frank’s life — Frank was told he had a high IQ and could do anything he wanted.
Bowe became an acclaimed disability rights activist, CEO, consultant, author, and esteemed teacher, having earned a BA from McDaniel College, MA from Gallaudet Graduate School and PhD from New York University.
Frank Bowe’s activism focused on changing people’s attitudes, bringing those with impairments into the general population so people would understand that physical disability, such as deafness, blindness or paralysis, does not imply mental disability or an inability to function fully in society.
In 1977, as the first executive director of the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Bowe helped organize people with disabilities to occupy offices of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare to focus attention on the rights of the disabled. This 10-city protest resulted in landmark regulations to enforce Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act — requiring that federally funded institutions provide access to the disabled. Many consider these events a precursor to the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.
Bowe was the first person with a disability to represent any nation in planning the UN International Year of Disabled Persons (1980). He chaired the US Congress Commission on Education of the Deaf (1984-86), testified frequently before the House and Senate, and was a regional commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration. Bowe was involved with legislation (1990), sponsored by Senator Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representative Markey (D-Massachusetts) that required TVs to receive and display closed captioning. The subsequent 1996 Telecommunications Act required broadcast and cable programs to be closed-captioned.
The honors bestowed on Frank Bowe, who died of cancer in 2007, are many: alumni awards from McDaniel, Gallaudet and NYU, listings in Who’s Who, Distinguished Service Award of the President of the US, the National Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities, and more.
Bowe joined Hofstra University in 1989, teaching research, counseling, special education and rehabilitation. He led a project to make the university’s information and instruction more accessible and usable for students, faculty and staff. A caring and inspiring teacher, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1996.
An avid reader, Bowe was also a prolific researcher and writer. Bowe contributed hundreds of articles to professional journals. His books include: “Handicapping America” — the first full-length text on social policy and disability, “Making Inclusion Work,” “Early Childhood Special Education,” and “Changing the Rules.”
Bowe’s “Universal Design in Education,” a handbook on meeting the diverse needs of all students, places the responsibility on schools to provide material and environments that are accessible and usable to all students, by offering options such as lessons in written and auditory forms, handouts on paper and CD, electronic and hard copy texts, distance learning and physically accessible classrooms.
In 2007 Donna Anderson of New Columbia attended a conference on Universal Design. To emphasize the concept, the instructor told the story of a young boy in a wheelchair who waiting outside his school building until the custodian could clear snow from the ramp. The boy asked how long it would be until he could go in. The custodian said, “Most of the children use the steps, I have to clear them first.” The boy replied, “If you shovel the ramp, EVERYBODY can go in together.”
“This had a tremendous impact on me,” Anderson said. “When I got home I did a search on ‘universal design’ as it would apply to my personal interest, ‘fairness in education.’ What did I see? I saw the name Frank Bowe! Could it be the Frank Bowe who sat beside me in high school? The Frank who had freckles, always smiled and was deaf?”
It was. The quiet schoolmate had, she said, grown up to be a true super hero.
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
- Helen Keller