WASHINGTON -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Office on Disability honored seven individuals and organizations from across the country, who are working to empower people with disabilities to lead lives of independence, promise and self-determination, on Oct. 26. The third annual "Celebrating Persons with Disabilities" helps bring greater national awareness of the abilities of persons with disabilities during October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The department presented the Secretary's Highest Recognition Award to honorees for advancing the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and President Bush's New Freedom Initiative to eliminate barriers that keep persons with disabilities from participating fully in community life. Alex Azar, HHS Deputy Secretary; Claude Allen, director of Domestic Policy Office, White House; Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General; and Dr. Margaret Giannini, director of the HHS Office on Disability were on hand to present the awards.
- Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, of Maryland, for establishing the first Cabinet-level State Department of Disabilities in the nation and for advancing state policies and programs that promote the importance, value and contributions of persons with disabilities.
- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the award-winning television show, for extraordinary contributions to educate America about disabilities and to demonstrate how universal design and innovative home accommodations, the spirit of community involvement, and corporate creativity can help persons with disabilities enjoy lives of promise, purpose and value.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics, in Illinois, a professional medical association focused on the health and wellness of children and youths, for creating and implementing the medical home concept that promotes accessible, continuous, integrated, family-centered primary care services for children with special needs and their families.
- Deaf West Theatre, in Los Angeles, an innovator in deaf theater, for its award-winning contributions to enrich the cultural lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing actors and theater patrons nationwide by bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds through theater.
- Jayne Greenberg, Ph.D., of Miami, Fla., executive director of the Division of Life Skills and Special Projects, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for pioneering work and partnership to implement throughout the Miami-Dade school district the "I Can Do It; You Can Do It" program, a physical fitness and well-being initiative for children and youths with disabilities, enriching their health and wellness, and emphasizing the strengths, abilities and potential in every child.
- William Henderson Jr., Ed.D, of Dorchester, Mass., principal of the award-winning Patrick O'Hearn School, for tireless effort as an educator and a person with a disability to create a model of inclusion and success for children with disabilities at O'Hearn Elementary School, emphasizing the inherent value, contribution and importance of persons with disabilities in school and in later life as adults engaged in their community.
- Sound Associates Inc., New York, Tony award-winning sound company for Broadway and beyond, for distinguished contributions that bring the magic of live theater to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with limited vision through the development and application of assistive technologies.