New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg honored seven organizations and individuals, including Ernst & Young and the New York Yankees, for their contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities.
At a Gracie Mansion reception on Wednesday celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the recepients were given awards for their “commitment to enhancing the quality of the lives of people with disabilities,” says Matthew Sapolin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
The five awards were presented to:
Ernst & Young, who was honored for its contributions to Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability. The New York-headquarted global consulting company has a widely known employee-resource group and recruits employees — “Abilities Champions” — to help disseminate disabilities-awareness messages to the company and industry at large.
The U.S. Olympic Committee, City Parks Foundation and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation was honored for its Paralympic Sport NYC program, which provides children ages 8-16 with physical disabilities an opportunity to be involved in a free track and field program.
The New York Yankees won the Reasonable Accommodation award for its efforts to make the new Yankee stadium accessible for the disabled, including more space for wheelchairs and closed-captioning for scoreboard announcements. The Yankees have also partnered with the city to host an annual Disabilities Awareness Day and recognize an individual or organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
The New York Botanical Garden was given an award for its innovative 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.
Lawrence Carter-Long received the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award, which goes to an individual who helps New Yorkers with disabilities achieve greater accessibility. Carter-Long is the executive director of the Disabilities Network of NYC.
“Through their programs, services and actions, these recipients have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, their dedication to the benefits provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Sapolin added.
Under the Bloomberg administration, over the past year New York City has developed a new building code to make more buildings accessible, launched an online disability resource network and created a new database on the city’s website for job seekers and employers.
The event included a few sweet, local touches. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals donated dog bowls for the service dogs and guests were given a calendar created by students at the School of Visual Arts. Flame, an 11-member band of people with disabilities, provided musical entertainment.