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PR- 319-05
August 16, 2005


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a reception in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Enacted by the federal government, the ADA established itself as one of the most important civil rights laws in our nation's history.  The spirit of the law has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans.   Mayor Bloomberg was joined at Gracie Mansion by Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for People With Disabilities Matthew Sapolin, Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of New York Edward R. Matthews, Executive Director of Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York Nicholas LaPorte, Jr., Vice-Chair of Hearst Corporation Frank A. Bennack, Jr. and CEO of Verizon Ivan G. Seidenberg. 

"As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act, New Yorkers with disabilities are taking advantage of a more level playing field and making significant contributions to our society," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Our Administration is working to make sure that New York builds a 'City of Opportunity' for everyone, which includes breaking down barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from enjoying all that this City has to offer."

In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the ADA, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities teamed with United Cerebral Palsy of New York and the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York to launch Doorways to Independence, a pilot program that will remove barriers for people with disabilities by installing ramps and other home modifications in the residences of low-to moderate-income New Yorker with physical disabilities.

"Time and time again, our administration has proven its commitment to bettering the lives of people with disabilities," said Executive Director Sapolin.  "It is only fitting that we honor the 15th Anniversary of this most important piece of legislation and celebrate our new pilot program Doorways to Independence."

During the evening's program, Mayor Bloomberg presented awards to three honorees in recognition of their contributions to accessibility under the ADA.  In addition, one recipient is being honored posthumously for her tireless effort to advocate for the breaking down of barriers for people with disabilities.  The following are the honorees:

The Hearst Corporation is receiving the award for Public Services.  Hearst is committed to assuring accessible services for people with disabilities at its newly renovated corporate headquarters and the public transportation facilities adjacent to it. 

Hearst has also been a generous supporter of local and nationwide efforts to advance the participation of people with disabilities through contributions, critical leadership and volunteerism, including personal participation by its top corporate leadership.

Verizon is receiving the award for Telecommunications.  Verizon merits this honor for the work done through its Disability Issues Awareness Leaders employee-resource group and supplier diversity efforts that specifically include companies owned by people with disabilities.  Its leadership has been exemplary in providing telephone equipment for hearing impaired, visually impaired, and mobility impaired individuals.  Since 1996, UCP/NYC has served as an affiliate for the Verizon LifeLine Assistive Equipment Distribution Program.  Together, through these efforts Verizon and UCP/NYC have distributed equipment to well over 6,500 people with disabilities statewide.

Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York (ABO) is receiving an award for its contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities through its Doorways to Independence program. Since 1910, ABO members have provided New York City with new development and rehabilitation projects in residential, commercial, hotel and retail properties

Frieda Zames is receiving an award posthumously for her commitment to helping individuals with disabilities achieve greater accessibility in a host of areas in the city, including, but not limited to, mass transit, housing and initiating the "One Step" campaign.

Sponsors of this evening's reception included United Cerebral Palsy of New York and The Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York.


Edward Skyler/Silvia Alvarez   (212) 788-2958

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