July 26, 2018
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into effect 28 years ago, but still so much more work needs to be done to ensure that those with disabilities have equal opportunities in all areas of life. “We are far from where we need to be, but the ADA really did change hearts and minds, it tore down barriers—physical and otherwise—it opened up all sorts of spaces to people, and all sorts of opportunities. We celebrate the ADA today with as equal fervor as the day with was passed. It is a statement of valuing each and every person,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the reception.
This is why the Sapolin Accessibility Awards recognized leaders who have helped to make significant advances in opportunities for people with disabilities. The Mayor and First Lady joined with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to celebrate these leaders and all of the achievements made in the last year, while recognizing that more work needs to be done. Learn more about the state of accessibility in New York City in the AccessibleNYC Annual Report, 2018.
Hiroshi Taki, CEO, accepted the Employment Award on behalf of UNIQLO USA for its commitment to hiring peoples with disabilities in every UNIQLO store. Additionally, UNIQLO USA piloted an internship program for college students and recent graduates with disabilities and hired 20 participants from MOPD’s NYC: ATWORK initiative.
Public Service Award
Robinson Hernandez, Executive Director, accepted the Public Service Award on behalf of the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech. Grand Central Tech (GCT) hosts a number of outreach efforts including a signature internship program that draws in young people from across the socioeconomic spectrum and provides them internships with member companies. Moreover, GCT works with and on technologies that are advancing the human condition.
Public Accommodations Award
Robert E. Wankel, President and Co-CEO, accepted the Public Accommodations Award on behalf of The Shubert Organization. Over the past 18 months, The Shubert Organization, along with Theater Development Fund (TDF), the Hearing Loss Foundation of America, The Association for Late Deafened Adults, and Hands On, has developed and tested new technology to make theater more accessible to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or have low vision. As of June 1, every Broadway show will be able to build on previous accessibility by offering on-demand closed captioning and audio description at every performance beginning four weeks from any production’s opening night.
Communication and Technology Award
Yonat Burlin, CEO, accepted the Communication and Technology Award on behalf of GalaPrompter. GalaPrompter’s groundbreaking use of vocal recognition software generates captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing ticketholders and audio description for attendees who are blind or have low vision which follows the onstage performance with unprecedented precision. The app creates an unparalleled real-time experience for each performance of every show in every theatre on Broadway. Venues providing their accessibility services with the GalaPro app no longer have to set special dates for open captioned or audio described performances.
Frieda Zames Advocacy Award
The Frieda Zames Advocacy Award went to Margaret “Peggy” Groce. Groce initiated Travel Training in the NYC Department of Education in 1970 for students with intellectual disabilities who aged out of school at 17 years of age unless they could travel independently to school. Over time, travel training instructional services were offered to students with diverse disabilities in the NYC public schools. Furthermore, she actively promotes the teaching of disability history and the disability rights movement to youth with disabilities, parents, educators, and staff of service provider agencies.
Video description: Watch the livestream of the remarks at the 2018 Sapolin Accessibility Awards.
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