FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND COMMISSIONER SAPOLIN HOST RECEPTION IN HONOR OF 18th ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
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 18th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Signed in1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sapolin presented five awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. The Mayor and Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Sapolin at the reception were Deputy Mayor of Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román; Kate Levin, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs; Matthew Daus, Commissioner/Chair of the Taxi & Limousine Commission; George Fertitta, Chief Executive Officer of NYC & Company; Ken Klipsie, Chief Operating Officer of Disaboom.com; Russ Cusick, VP of Human Resources, Swiss Post Solutions; Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director, Queens Museum of Art; Ken Struve, Executive Director, City Access New York; Louise Mirrer, President/Chief Executive Officer, New-York Historical Society; Edith Prentiss, VP of Legislative Affairs, Disabled In Action; Soula Antoniou, President, VSA Arts; and Anita Edson, Senior Director of Media and Communications, ASPCA.
“It is an honor to celebrate the 18th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a tremendous milestone in the history of civil rights,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Our administration remains dedicated to ensuring greater accessibility for all New Yorkers. Today, we recognize some of the people and organizations who help people with disabilities fully participate in every aspect of city life and make New York the greatest city in the world for people with disabilities.”
“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.”
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:
Swiss Post Solutions: TITLE I Employment Award
Swiss Post Solutions delivers a large selection of outsourcing, administrative, and business services to organizations of all sizes and across all industries, and provides solutions that help reduce costs and improve service. Swiss Post Solutions is being honored with the Title I Employment Award for its dedication to helping people with special needs find employment and its work with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to help place disabled students and job-seekers with potential employers. Russ Cusick, Vice President of Human Resources at Swiss Post Solutions is accepting the award.
Queens Museum of Art: TITLE II Public Service Award
The Queens Museum of Art is being honored with the Title II Public Service Award for its ArtAccess Program. ArtAccess is a unique program of the Queens Museum of Art designed specifically for visitors with special needs. ArtAccess reaffirms the museum's commitment to making its services accessible to all visitors, including those with varying physical, emotional and cognitive abilities. ArtAccess programs allow teachers and program coordinators the flexibility to design an experience based on the needs of the students or clients. ArtAccess is available for special education and adult groups to accommodate visitors with varying learning styles and expressive needs. Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art is accepting the award.
City Access New York: TITLE III Reasonable Accommodation Award
City Access New York (CANY) promotes lifelong access to educational, vocational and cultural programs for New Yorkers of all abilities. CANY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that identifies barriers to participation, in schools and in the community, and adapts the content and delivery of programs to the diverse needs of people with disabilities. CANY is being honored with the Title III Reasonable Accommodation Award for its many programs and services, including its Museum Access Consortium (MAC) which provides information and training to museum professionals, educators, advocates and all parties interested in improving access to NYC cultural institutions for visitors with disabilities. Ken Struve, Executive Director of City Access New York is accepting the award.
New-York Historical Society: TITLE IV Telecommunications Award
The New-York Historical Society (NYHS) is dedicated to presenting exhibitions and public programs, and fostering research that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, its holdings cover four centuries of American history, and include one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, American art and other materials documenting the history of the United States as seen through the prism of New York City and State. NYHS is being honored with the Title IV Telecommunications award for its use of technology to help the disabled, including: Audioguides, which are available to use for The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, are free with admission, T-coil compatible and equipped with volume control; and its auditorium, which is equipped with an FM assistive listening system, and allows for use of headsets and neckloops. Louise Mirrer, President/CEO of NYHS is accepting the award.
Disabled In Action: Frieda Zames Advocacy Award
Disabled In Action (DIA) is being honored with the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award. A civil rights organization committed to ending discrimination against people with disabilities, DIA fights to eliminate the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying full equality in American society. Founded in 1970, DIA is a democratic, not-for-profit, tax-exempt, membership organization that consists primarily of and is directed by people with disabilities. Edith Prentiss, VP of Legislative Affairs, DIA, is accepting the award.
This evening’s reception was sponsored by Disaboom.com. 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 and MOPD. The calendar presents the work of 17 New York City artists and commemorates the success of MOPD. Bank of America, Bank of America’s Disability Affinity Group, Pitney Bowes and Williams Lea donated their time and effort to help make the calendar a reality.
The reception continues MOPD’s commemoration of the 18th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act that began on July 31, 2008 when MOPD, in conjunction with the New York Yankees, celebrated Disability Awareness Night at Yankee Stadium. Before the Yankees took on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Commissioner Sapolin and Nicholas Kaminski of MOPD presented a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg to the Achilles Track Club.
Founded in New York City by Dick Traum in 1983 to encourage disabled people to participate in long-distance running races, including the New York City marathon, the Achilles Track Club has expanded into 40 chapters in the United States and over 110 chapters on six continents. Achilles will have sponsored over 600 athletes with disabilities to compete in 13 marathons in 2008 alone. Many of these athletes are part of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, a rehabilitation program that began at Walter Reed Army Medical Center encouraging recently wounded veterans to compete in marathons either on hand-crank wheelchairs or running on prosthetics. Achilles also has a program called Achilles Kids working with more than 2,000 children with disabilities in over 152 schools nationwide. In addition to providing support, training, and technical expertise to runners at all levels, Achilles participates in programs that provide eye surgery for blind runners, below the knee prostheses, and sports wheelchairs for Achilles members. Achilles has also helped to train over 2,000 disadvantaged New York City children with disabilities at 50 public schools, as well as disabled seniors at senior citizen centers.
Accepting the Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation was Achilles founder Dick Traum and Founding Chairman of the Achilles Board of Directors Trisha Meili. In 1976 Dick Traum became the first amputee to run a marathon with an artificial leg. Trisha Meili is the author of the best-selling memoir, I Am The Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility, who, with the help of Achilles, ran the New York City marathon after rehabilitating from a traumatic brain injury.
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.
Stu Loeser/ Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958