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Press Release on Accessible NYC

Oct 26, 2009

For Immediate Release:

AccesibleNYC.org Website Launched for Visitors to the Big Apple with Disabilities

At a press conference at New York City’s storied Russian Tea Room on Tuesday, October 20, United Spinal Association’s Kleo King, Senior Vice President of Accessibility Services, announced the launch of Accessible NYC (www.accessiblenyc.org), a website designed to help visitors with disabilities navigate New York City.  Ken Biberaj, Vice President of The Russian Tea Room, and Commissioner Matthew Sapolin from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities also spoke at the event to support the mission of the founding partners, Society for Accessibly Travel & Hospitality (SATH), United Spinal, and Vega Transportation. The Russian Tea Room is located at 150 West 57th Street in Manhattan.

“When Ed Kelley from Vega Transportation and Jani Nayar from SATH came to us with this idea, we loved it,” said King, who also heads United Spinal’s specialized ABLE to Travel agency for people with disabilities. “There was a study done in 2002 by Open Doors out of Chicago that showed that adults with disabilities spend $13.6 billion annually on travel, and New York is their number one destination….People want to come here. They need to know where they can stay and which restaurants are accessible—and what do you mean by ‘accessible’? Does it mean it was built yesterday according to the letter of the law? Sometimes the building may be accessible but the attitude of the staff is an obstacle. We go to the sites and check them out ourselves before we add them to the list. We post the information, and now travel agents around the world can access it, people who live in New York City who have disabilities can use it.”

“There’s no reason we [businesses] can’t do our part to make New York City the number one, premier travel destination for travelers with disabilities worldwide,” said Biberaj. “We quickly jumped on this opportunity, for a couple of reasons: Number one, it’s the right thing to do; and number two, we wanted to show people across the world that it’s the policy of the Russian Tea Room that no matter where you’re coming from or what your disability may be, the Russian Tea Room and other venues of New York City are open to you.”

“What I’m here supporting today on behalf of the city,” said Sapolin, “is an initiative, a partnership by a group of entities in this community, who are taking steps to improve the levels of accessibility for people with disabilities… I commend those partners for taking the steps to engage each other, to engage the market, and to engage us in supplementing what we as a city have already done and what we and others can do going forward to ensure that other people with disabilities can come and visit our city.”

If you live with a disability and are planning a visit to NYC either for fun or on business, this is an invaluable resource for you and your family. All the information you need to make your stay in NYC pleasant and enjoyable is finally available at one Web site.

Please visit www.accessiblenyc.org, to learn more and be sure to share the site with others who may find it useful.

For more information contact –

Kleo King, Senior VP Accessibility Services, United Spinal Assoc., 718-803-3782 x7501, KKing@unitedspinal.org

Jani Nayar, Society for Accessibly Travel & Hospitality, 212-447-7284   jnayar@sath.org

Ed Kelly, Vega Transportation, 718-507-0500, ekelley@vegatransportation.com