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PR- 268-13
August 5, 2013


ADA Sapolin Awards - in Honor of Late Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Sapolin - Presented to New York Organizations Dedicated to Helping People with Disabilities

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Victor Calise today hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion in honor of the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans. Each year, the Mayor and MOPD present four ADA Sapolin Awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities under the titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act and an Advocacy Award to an individual or entity that has demonstrated a commitment to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. The ADA Sapolin Awards are named after late MOPD Commissioner Matthew Sapolin, who passed away on November 29, 2011, and the Advocacy Award is named in honor of the late Frieda Zames. Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Calise at the reception were Deputy Mayor of Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román; John Cavaliero, Managing Director, Local/State Government Practice, Accenture; Sara Marinello, Executive Director, Government & Community Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society; Lance Pinn, Co-Founder & President, Brooklyn Boulders; Kareemah Batts, Founder, NYC Adaptive Climbing; Tom Touchet, CEO and President, City 24/7; and Karen Gourgey, Chair, P.A.S.S. Coalition.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act opened doors to opportunity for millions of Americans, but we must continue to work towards a more accessible and inclusive society in order to fully extend the promise of the ADA to every New Yorker," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We salute those who are leading us closer to that ultimate goal by doing extraordinary work for both New Yorkers and visitors to our city living with disabilities. Tonight, we recognize those who champion the spirit of the ADA and enable New Yorkers with disabilities to participate in and enjoy all that our great city has to offer."

"It is great to see individuals and entities doing extraordinary things to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and I am honored to highlight some of the New Yorkers that share the commitment of Matt Sapolin and Frieda Zames," said Commissioner Calise.  "The recipients are truly worthy of this honor as they have proven themselves dedicated to the protection of civil rights as provided for by the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The recipients of the 2013 ADA Sapolin Awards and Zames Advocacy Award are as follows:

  • Accenture: TITLE I ADA Sapolin Employment Award Accenture, a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, was named one of the 2013 top 10 Companies for People with Disabilities in DiversityInc Magazine. It is a dedicated recruiter of people with disabilities as employees and maintains strong relationships with job recruiters of people with disabilities. Further, its Accenture Diversity Council assesses inclusion and diversity challenges, sets strategic direction and prioritizes actions. Accenture also provides assistive technology and workplace adjustments for people with disabilities; created "Global PwD Champions", which organizes local networking, collaboration, mentoring and awareness-building activities in its geographies for persons with disabilities, as well as caregivers and colleagues; and launched pages on the Global Inclusion & Diversity portal site that focus on Persons with Disabilities, including providing information, support and programs to help foster inclusiveness in its workforce. John Cavaliero, Managing Director, Local/State Government Practice, Accenture, is accepting the award.

  • Wildlife Conservation Society: TITLE II ADA Sapolin Public Service Award Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) performs global conservation work and manages five parks in New York City to create the world's most comprehensive conservation organization. It currently manages about 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries, and educates millions of visitors at its five living institutions in New York City on important issues affecting our planet. All of its buildings and classrooms are wheelchair-accessible, and its website provides detailed information regarding its exhibits with respect to people with disabilities. Further, WCS has set up a new ADA Committee to address immediate concerns and solution for accessibility. Sara Marinello, Executive Director, Government & Community Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society, is accepting the award.

  • Brooklyn Boulders/NYC Adaptive Climbing: TITLE III ADA Sapolin Public Accommodation Award Brooklyn Boulders and its partner, NYC Adaptive Climbing, provide rock wall climbing, including bouldering, top roping, and lead climbing to people with disabilities through their NYC Adaptive Climbing Clinic, one of the first of its kind which introduces climbing to all people with physical disabilities regardless of age. Further, people with disabilities are able to leave their assisted devices behind, feel powerful, strong, and accomplish things that others believe they cannot. Lance Pinn, Co-Founder & President, Brooklyn Boulders, and Kareemah Batts, Founder, NYC Adaptive Climbing, are accepting the award.

  • City 24/7: TITLE IV ADA Sapolin Telecommunications Award City 24/7 is installing a revolutionary communications system consisting initially of 250 Smart Screens across the five boroughs to essentially replace the public telephone. These smart screens are designed to be accessible to all, and contain components that are usable by both the blind/low vision and deaf/hard of hearing communities. Some of the features that meet or exceed ADA mandates include providing: multiple languages; an induction loop and headphone jack for people who are hard of hearing; a high contrast screen mode for people with low vision; visual recognition for a seeing eye dog and cane; wayfinder key-fob access point for the blind; and an innovative flipping screen for wheelchair users. Tom Touchet, CEO and President, City 24/7, is accepting the award.

  • PASS Coalition: Frieda Zames Advocacy Award The PASS (Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets) Coalition works to ensure that people who are blind or have low vision have full access to NYC streets and sidewalks. It has provided critical input and advocacy to help people who are blind or have low vision to know when it is safe to cross the street, including through the city's Accessible Pedestrian Signal and detectable warning strip programs. Karen Gourgey, Chair, PASS Coalition, is accepting the award.

This evening's reception was sponsored by IBM. 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.


Marc La Vorgna / Evelyn Erskine   (212) 788-2958


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