Friday, June 17, 2005

Frieda Zames, 72, Advocate for Disabled, Dies

Sad news of the death of an important activist and Disability Studies author, from the NY Times, June 17, 2005, by Margalit Fox

Frieda Zames, a prominent advocate for the disabled who lobbied to make New York City accessible to them, died yesterday morning at her home in Manhattan. She was 72.

The cause has not been determined, said Anne Emerman, a longtime friend. She said Ms. Zames had been recovering at home from a recent appendectomy.

Ms. Zames, a retired mathematics professor, was a past president of Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, an advocacy group. At her death, she was a vice president of the organization.

Over the last several decades, Ms. Zames, who used a motorized scooter because of the effects of childhood polio, worked to improve access in places like subway stations, movie theaters, stores, restaurants and public restrooms. Her work helped make city buses wheelchair-accessible beginning in the 1980's; in recent years, she lobbied for wheelchair access to taxis and ferryboats.

With her sister, Doris Zames Fleischer, Ms. Zames wrote "The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation" (Temple University, 2001), a historical survey.

Frieda Zames was born in Brooklyn in 1932. She earned an undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and a doctorate in mathematics from New York University. Until her retirement, she taught for many years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

In addition to her sister, of Brooklyn, Ms. Zames is survived by her partner of more than 30 years, Michael Imperiale.