Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise today hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion to celebrate the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans. Each year, the Mayor and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities present four awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. This year, the ADA Awards have been re-named the ADA Sapolin Awards in honor of the late MOPD Commissioner Matthew Sapolin, who passed away on November 29, 2011.
The Advocacy Award, given to an individual or entity that has demonstrated a commitment to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities, remains in the name of the late Frieda Zames. Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Calise at the reception were Deputy Mayor of Legal Affairs Carol Robles-Román; Paralympic Table Tennis Champion Jennifer Johnson; Job Path Deputy Director Fredda Rosen; Carnegie Hall’s Director of Government Affairs David Freudenthal; President and Chief Executive Officer of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum Georgina Ngozi; North American Region Vice President of Alcatel-Lucent Gus S. Vasilakis; Executive Vice President of Direct Response for the Wounded Warrior Project John Hamre; and Regional Coordinator for Physical Health & Wellness for the Wounded Warrior Project William Hannigan.
“Today we highlight some of the New Yorkers and organizations that have dedicated themselves to helping people with disabilities live more independently, thrive as professionals, and take full advantage of all that our City has to offer,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The American with Disabilities Act was one of the most important civil rights measures in our nation’s history. It opened doors to opportunity for millions of Americans but there is more to do to create a more accessible nation. This evening’s honorees are helping us do that by upholding the spirit of equality, inclusiveness, and opportunity that makes this the world’s greatest City.”
“I am proud to join the Mayor in granting awards to organizations and individuals who share our commitment to improving the quality of the lives of people with disabilities in the spirit of Matt Sapolin and Frieda Zames,” said Commissioner Calise. “The recipients are truly worthy of this honor as they have proven themselves as dedicated to the protection of civil rights as provided for by the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
The recipients of the 2012 ADA Sapolin Awards and the 2012 Zames Advocacy Award are as follows:
Job Path: TITLE I ADA Sapolin Employment Award Since 1978, Job Path has been encouraging people with developmental disabilities to explore what they want out of life and then to chart their own journeys. Through its programs, Job Path provides the opportunities and support for people to succeed at whatever they want – whether it’s paid or volunteer work, living in their own homes, or participating in community life. Job Path’s programs assist people in getting a job, making community connections and living in their own home. It also provides Life Coaching, which is designed for adults with autism spectrum disabilities (such as Asperger’s Syndrome), and its Medicaid Service Coordination staff work to design an overall plan for each person and to solve any problems that arise along the way. Job Path also shares best practices and ideas designed to create new opportunities for young people with developmental disabilities as they transition out of the New York City school system. Fredda Rosen, Deputy Director, Job Path, Inc., accepted the award.
Carnegie Hall: TITLE II ADA Sapolin Public Service Award Carnegie Hall is one of the world’s most recognized cultural institutions, with a multi-layered mission to present extraordinary music and musicians on its three stages, to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience, to provide visionary education programs, and to foster the future of music through the cultivation of new works, artists, and audiences. Although Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, it offers a full range of services to make all of its facility accessible, including access, special seating arrangements, assistive listening devices, large print programs, volume-control public telephones, accessible restrooms and website accessibility. David Freudenthal, Director of Government Affairs, Carnegie Hall accepted the award.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum: TITLE III ADA Sapolin Public Accommodation Award A pioneer in education, Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899. Its success has sparked the creation of 300 children’s museums around the world. With award-winning, hands-on exhibits and innovative use of its collections, the Museum engages children from pre-school to high school in learning adventures. It is the only children’s museum in New York City, and one of few in the country, to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. The mission of Brooklyn Children’s Museum is to actively engage children in educational and entertaining experiences through innovation and excellence in exhibitions, programs, and use of its collection. While having just completed an amazing, eco-friendly expansion project, the Museum is wheelchair accessible and all of its exhibits are hands-on and incorporate visual, tactile, and auditory components. The Museum also offers workshops for children with special needs and their families, and its school programs are adaptable for students with special needs and provide hands-on programming composed of multi-sensory activities. Further, in September, the Museum will be opening a Sensory Room that will be dedicated to working with children on the Autism Spectrum, and overseen by its Sensory Advisory Committee, which consists of Museum staff, professionals, parents and educators. Georgina Ngozi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, is accepting the award.
Alcatel-Lucent: TITLE IV ADA Sapolin Telecommunications Award With operations in more than 130 countries and one of the most experienced global services organizations in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a leader in mobile, fixed, IP and Optics technologies, and is a long-trusted partner of service providers, enterprises, strategic industries and governments around the world. Alcatel-Lucent has a dedicated program focusing on the integration of a disabled person into the workforce through the installation of adapted working tools and the providing of accessible means of communication. It offers a variety of tools for telephony and unified communication which can be integrated into the IT environment of a disabled person and can be easily adapted to that person’s requirements according to their sensory and mobility capacities. For example, computer keyboards supplied with the Alcatel- Lucent IP Touch range of sets have tactile markers that are usable by people who are blind or have low vision. For people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, their Comfort Handset, available as standard on high-end telephones, allows magnetic loop coupling. Alcatel-Lucent also has an Application Partner Program with a mission to encourage the development of joint solutions for the physical or sensory disability domain with partner companies. Gus S. Vasilakis, Vice President, North American Region, Alcatel-Lucent, accepted the award.
Wounded Warrior Project: Frieda Zames Advocacy Award Wounded Warrior Project is an organization with a mission to honor and empower military service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses on or after September 11, 2001 and their families as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury, from the physical to the invisible wounds of war. It began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life. WWP’s Alumni program provides long-term support through a wide range of complimentary programs that are uniquely structured to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. John Hamre, Executive Vice President of Direct Response, Wounded Warrior Project, and William Hannigan, Regional Coordinator, Physical Health & Wellness, Wounded Warrior Project, accepted the award.
This evening’s reception was sponsored by IBM, Citigroup and the Vehicle Production Group. 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.