The U.S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Sport New York City, a program of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, were two of seven honorees recognized by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Matthew Sapolin. The organizations and individuals were recognized for having made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities at a Gracie Mansion reception celebrating the 19th 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.
"Our City is replete with organizations committed to carrying out the mission of the Americans with Disabilities Act by helping more people with disabilities fully participate in everything our great city has to offer," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Over the past year we have developed a new building code that will help to make more of our city's buildings fully accessible, launched a comprehensive online disability resource network and created a new database on the city's website for job seekers and employers, which grew out of our successful Disability Mentoring Day. The members of our city's disabled community each have their own unique needs and challenges, but they all deserve the same opportunities - and we're going to continue working to make sure they get them."
"Every year, the Bloomberg Administration grants awards to organizations and individuals who share our commitment to enhancing the quality of the lives of people with disabilities," 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."
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sapolin presented five awards in recognition of contributions made to accessibility for disabled New Yorkers. The recipients are:
Title I Employment Award - Ernst & Young is being honored for its contributions to prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of disability. Ernst & Young was named Number One in DiversityInc.'s Top 10 Companies for people with disabilities. The firm has a world-class "AccessAbilities" employee-resource group whose members meet monthly through a conference call and have "Abilities Champions" who make sure disabilities-awareness messages and educational material are part of communications, meetings and events. Mark Manoff, Vice Chair and Northeast Managing Partner is accepting the award for Ernst & Young.
Title II Public Service Award - US Olympic Committee, City Parks Foundation and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation are being honored for their Paralympic Sport NYC program, which provides children ages 8-16 with physical disabilities an opportunity to be involved in a free track & field program. This program runs from July 7 through August 12, every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan. Peter Zeytoonjian, Managing Director of Consumer Products and Licensing for the United States Olympic Committee, David Rivel, Executive Director of the City Parks Foundation and Parks Department Assistant Commissioner Nancy Barthold will be accepting the award.
Title III Reasonable Accommodation Award - The New York Yankees are being honored for the innovative accessibility of their new stadium. The Yankees are a member of the Tri-State Disabled Services Consortium of Entertainment and Sports Venues, which provides a forum for representatives from the tri-state area's major entertainment venues to brainstorm and share best practices regarding accessibility issues. The Yankees have also partnered with MOPD to host an annual Disabilities Awareness Day and recognize an individual or organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Carol Laurenzano, ADA Director and Doug Behar, Senior Director of Stadium Operations will be accepting the award on behalf of the Yankees.
Title IV Telecommunications Award - The New York Botanical Garden is being honored for its use of technology and accessible telecommunications, including the Garden's Audio Tour, descriptive commentary in the Home Gardening Center for visually impaired, assisted listening devices on request in the lecture hall, and for all tours and programs for hearing impaired visitors. J.V. Cossaboom, Chief Operating Officer, will be accepting the award on behalf of the NY Botanical Garden.
Frieda Zames Advocacy Award - Lawrence Carter-Long is being honored for his contributions to helping New Yorkers with disabilities achieve greater accessibility. The Frieda Zames Advocacy Award is given to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to helping individuals with disabilities achieve greater accessibility in honor of the late Frieda Zames who passed away in 2005 before she was able to accept her award. As Executive Director of the Disabilities Network of NYC, Mr. Carter-Long is a respected spokesperson on a wide variety of issues ranging from media portrayal of disability, self determination, medical ethics, employment, transportation and housing. He is a strong advocate for people with disabilities.
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.