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PR- 295-07
August 15, 2007


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today celebrated the 17th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a reception at Gracie Mansion. Signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a landmark civil rights law which has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner for the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Matthew Sapolin presented five awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Sapolin at tonight's reception were Deputy Mayor of Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román, Commissioner of the New York City Sports Commission  Ken Podziba, Disability Coordinator of the American International Group Brett Eisenberg, Vice-Chancellor of the New York State Department of Education Merryl Tisch, Vice President of Merrill Lynch's Multicultural Marketing Group's Special Needs Marketing Program Christopher Sullivan, and President of Aequus Technologies Richard Schatzberg.

"A tremendous milestone in the history of civil rights, the ADA opened the door for millions of Americans with disabilities," said Mayor Bloomberg "Tonight, we honor some organizations that continue to build on that great achievement and help more people with disabilities succeed in every sphere of city life. People with disabilities continue to make major contributions to our economic, cultural and civic life both in New York City and throughout the world. Our Administration wants to make sure that all New Yorkers can enjoy everything this great city has to offer."

"Today, as we have done in the past, the Mayor and I are granting awards to recipients who share this Administration's commitment to bettering the lives of people with disabilities," said Commissioner Sapolin. "The recipients, through their actions, have demonstrated their dedication to the benefits provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Tonight's award recipients are:

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is being honored with the Title I ADA Employment Award for its disability initiatives including: its partnership with the National Business & Disability Council, the leading national corporate resource for hiring, working with, and marketing to people with disabilities; its diversity program that provides educational forums and develops products and services to better serve people with disabilities; its partnership with ORBIS International, a global network dedicated to saving sight worldwide; its sponsorship of "Soldier Ride," a cross-country bicycle trip that has helped raise awareness about the sacrifices and needs of soldiers severely wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; its participation in the Wall Street Business and Disability Group; its participation in National Disability Mentoring Day; and its partnership with the Mayor's Office for People With Disabilities in the MOPD/AIG Fellows Program. AIG is a leading insurance and financial services organization with operations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions.

The New York State Department of Education is being honored tonight with the Title II ADA Public Service Award for its Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). VESID is a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with CUNY aimed at increasing college enrollment and related vocational training for disabled students making the transition from high school to college.

Merrill Lynch is being honored tonight with the Title III ADA Public Accommodation Award for its various disability initiatives. Its Disability Awareness Professional Network helps attract, recruit and assist people with disabilities to partner with Merrill Lynch in employee development, business activities and community participation. Its "Special Needs Marketing" program provides specialized wealth management tools, trained Financial Advisors and customized solutions that address the particular financial needs of families with disabled children, as well as specialized accessibility services for deaf, hard of hearing, and blind and visually impaired clients. Merrill Lynch is one of the world's leading wealth management, capital markets and advisory companies.

Aequus Technologies is being honored tonight with the Title IV ADA Telecommunications Award for its commitment to providing increased access to computer technology and communications for people with disabilities. Aequus Technologies develops technology-based products and services that are intended to solve accessibility problems for students and professionals that have sensory and cognitive disabilities. Specifically, its Snap!VRS video relay service enables deaf or hard-of-hearing subscribers to better communicate through video relay calls with certified ASL interpreters over a high-speed Internet connection and its Digital Publishing Solutions are designed to improve learning outcomes for students with special needs.

Terry Moakley is being honored with the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award for his overall commitment to helping individuals with disabilities achieve greater accessibility. Terry has been a quadriplegic following a spinal cord injury caused by a diving accident 39 years ago. He became an accessible taxi advocate in 1996 when New York City auctioned off 400 new yellow taxi medallions, but none were required to be wheelchair-accessible. He helped form an accessible taxi coalition along with then City Council Member Margarita Lopez and, in 2003, a bill was passed requiring 81 accessible-only new taxi medallions to be auctioned. Terry continues to pursue his goal of passing a bill that would eventually convert the City's entire yellow taxi system to a fully-accessible, environmentally-clean fleet.

This evening's reception was made possible by American International Group, Inc. and generous donation from A Touch of Class, Inc.


Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine   (212) 788-2958

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