Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Matthew Sapolin today hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sapolin presented five awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. Mayor and Commissioner Sapolin were joined by Deputy Mayor of Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román and representatives of the organizations that were recognized during the reception. Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans.
“”The Americans with Disabilities Act is one of our nation’s important victories in fulfilling our founding promise of equality for all,”” said Mayor Bloomberg. “”The 20th anniversary of the ADA is our opportunity to celebrate and highlight the everyday work of the many individuals and organizations that share this Administration’s commitment to bettering the lives of people with disabilities. We have worked hard to make sure New Yorkers with disabilities have improved access to every aspect of the city, and we remain dedicated to making New York the greatest city in the world for people with disabilities.””
“”On this significant anniversary, it is only appropriate that the Mayor and I continue what has become an annual tradition by granting awards to some of the people and organizations who help people with disabilities fully participate in every aspect of city life,”” said Commissioner Sapolin. “”The recipients, through their programs, services and actions, have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, their dedication to the benefits provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act.””
At the reception, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sapolin presented awards to five recipients in recognition of their contributions to accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are:
Bank of America: TITLE I Employment Award
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. It is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America is being honored with the Title I Employment Award for its commitment to diversity and inclusion in its everyday activities such as charitable giving to organizations aiding those with disabilities, promotion and encouragement of internal volunteer-based affinity groups, and recruitment of diverse talent including its job accommodations group that integrates people with disabilities and arranges accommodations. Bob Qutub, Chief Financial Officer, Global Banking and Markets, Bank of America, is accepting the award.
American Museum of Natural History: TITLE II Public Service Award
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education and exhibition. AMNH is being honored with the Title II Public Service Award for its accessible exhibitions, theaters, and food service areas, as well as its Science Sense tours, which are geared for the blind and visually impaired, are free with admission and involve specially trained museum tour guides who highlight specific themes and exhibition halls while engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects. Ann Siegel, Vice President for Operations and Capital Programs, American Museum of Natural History, is accepting the award.
The NYC Independent Living Centers: TITLE III Reasonable Accommodation Award
The New York City Independent Living Centers (ILCs), which include: Bronx Independent Living Services; Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled; Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York; Harlem Independent Living Center; and Staten Island Center for Independent Living, are part of the Independent Living Centers movement, a national network of grassroots and community-based organizations that enhance opportunities for all people with disabilities to direct their own lives. The ILCs are being honored with the Title III Reasonable Accommodation Award for providing a wide array of services to people with disabilities free of charge, including benefits counseling, housing assistance, transition services for youth with disabilities, employment-related assistance, healthcare access, peer support groups, personal and systems advocacy, crime victims and domestic violence services, individual living skills training, community education & outreach, computer training, cooking classes, information and referrals, and recreational activities. Robert Gumson, Unit Manager, Independent Living Services, New York State Education Department’s Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals With Disabilities (VESID), is accepting the award.
The AbleGamers Foundation: TITLE IV Telecommunications Award
The AbleGamers Foundation (AGF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity devoted to improving accessibility in the digital entertainment space and innovations in enabling hardware. AGF is being honored with the Title IV Telecommunications award for its use of technology and accessible telecommunications, including its website, AbleGamers.com, which is now the largest destination on the web for the disabled gaming community and offers a safe place for any gamer with any disability to explore and to solve issues as a team and family; its annual “”Game Accessibility Day””, designed to show how gaming can be used for rehabilitation, testing, or just plain fun; its interactive event “”The Accessibility Arcade”” that allows non-disabled people to look at, and experience the gaming world from the perspective of the disabled; and its “”Path to Games Accessibility Project””, which convenes leading games accessibility experts, game technology vendors, and lead game programmers, producers, artists, and testers to identify and clearly state what technologies and processes can be developed by 2015 that will greatly enhance the ability of people with disabilities to better play the videogames they want and love. Suzanne Robitaille, Board Member, The AbleGamers Foundation, is accepting the award.
Autism Speaks: Frieda Zames Advocacy Award
Autism Speaks, a nonprofit corporation, has grown into the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. Autism Speaks also serves increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders, advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families and aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to take action to address this urgent global health crisis. On June 13th of this year, its annual “”Walk Now for Autism Speaks”” event in New York City raised over $1 million and involved the participation of over 4,700 walkers. For these reasons, AS is being honored with the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award, given to an individual or organization whose tireless efforts for greater accessibility are a fitting tribute to the late Frieda Zames. Mark Roithmayr, President, Autism Speaks, is accepting the award.
This evening’s reception was sponsored by Bank of America, Autism Speaks and Anheuser-Busch In-Bev. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) donated dog bowls for the service dogs at tonight’s event. As guests departed from tonight’s event, they received a new calendar that was a collaborative effort between VSA Arts, an international nonprofit organization founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts, and MOPD.
The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, established in 1973, serves as a liaison between city government and disabled individuals, as well as organizations dedicated to improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.