National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2011


Presidential Proclamation — National Disability Employment Awareness Month


By The President of The United States of America



Utilizing the talents of all Americans is essential for our Nation to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we recognize the skills that people with disabilities bring to our workforce, and we rededicate ourselves to improving employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors for those living with disabilities.

More than 20 years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with disabilities, including injured veterans, are making immeasurable contributions to workplaces across our country. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains too high — nearly double the rate of people without disabilities — and reversing this trend is crucial.

In both the public and private sectors, we can increase employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities. My Administration is promoting competitive, integrated employment for persons with disabilities and the elderly through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Last year, we also recommitted to making the Federal Government a model employer for people living with disabilities. Agencies are working harder than ever to promote equal hiring practices and increase retention, while also expanding internships, fellowships, and training opportunities.

We know education is the foundation on which all children can build bright and successful futures, and no child should be limited in his or her desire to learn. In September, we announced the final regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C, to improve services and outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families during the critical years before kindergarten. The educational environments we are creating for children with disabilities will ensure they are better prepared to succeed in the classroom and later in the workplace, helping position our Nation to lead in the 21st century.

Work accessibility is just as vital to success as ensuring educational and hiring opportunities. Public transportation is a service that should be available to all Americans, and rules instated this year by the Department of Transportation require new rail construction or renovations to ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities. We are also improving our compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to make Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities. This will ensure all applicants have equal opportunity to apply for jobs, and it will allow Federal employees to better use technology at work.

To win the future, we must harness the power of our Nation’s richest resource — our people. Americans with disabilities, like all Americans, are entitled to not only full participation in our society, but also full opportunity in our society. Their talents and contributions are vital to the strength of our Nation’s workforce and our future prosperity. Together, we can ensure persons living with disabilities have equal access to employment, and to inclusive, supportive workplaces.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2011 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2011.pdf

In Italy, do as the Italians do–head for the hills

Medical Economics March 6, 2000 | Wise, Joe Forget Florence. Rethink Rome. Vacation in the Val Gardens, a hiker’s paradise.

Tucked away among the skyscraping Dolomites in Italy’s northeast corner, the Val Gardena is more Tyrolean than Tuscan. In winter, people ski its surrounding ridges and high meadows. But in spring and summer, the wildflower-studded highlands are a hiker’s paradise. At altitudes of 4,000 to 6,000 feet, the only breathtaking thing is the scenery.

My wife and I went in May, after the skiers had left and before the tour buses would arrive. The days were sunny, the wildflowers were starting to bloom, and the evenings were warm enough to dine al fresco. Our destination was the town of St. Ulrich, the patron invoked-for some reason-against difficult childbirth, dizziness, mice, and moles.

There is barely room between the mountains for the Easter-egg-pastel stucco houses in this resort village of 5,500 people. Our hotel, the Stetteneck, with only 27 guest rooms, had been owned and operated by the same family since 1938. From the cozy lobby bar to the friendly dog in the foyer, it reflects the attention given to making guests feel welcome. Our second-floor room was spacious and sunlit with parquet floors, hand-painted wooden chests, and a featherbed. French doors opened to a small balcony with table and chairs.

After unpacking and enjoying a cappuccino in the last of the cool sunshine, we had a typical Val Gardena dinner at Cucina alla Veneta, one of the 30-plus restaurants in town. It began with antipasti and ended with strudel. In between were lasagna with fontina cheese, bean soup, Wiener schnitzel, polenta, and bratwurst, along with a local red wine. As we left, the waiter thanked us in German and bade us goodbye in Italian.

This culinary and linguistic intermingling is characteristic of the region, where people speak a Romance language called Ladin at home and conduct business in Ladin, German, and Italian. St. Ulrich is called Ortisei in Italian and Urtijei in Ladin; Val Gardena is Groden in German. Fortunately for American travelers, most adult St. Ulrichers speak English quite fluently The ethnic inhabitants of the area are descendants of the Roman soldiers sent by the Emperor Tiberius to crush the native Celts. The Val Gardena has been conquered repeatedly by the Austrians, Germans, and Italians. An elderly woman told us shed changed nationalities four times while never leaving the village.

The people we encountered showed a mixture of German reserve and Italian warmth. We asked a man on the street where to buy wine. He could have pointed us to a store, but he said, “Follow me,” and took us to a shop. Our host at the hotel spent hours telling where to go hiking and find the best restaurants.

Next morning; we walked the maze of the town’s cobbled streets and marveled at the variety of wood carvings for sale, ranging in size from 10 centimeters to 10 feet. Some were finished in natural wood; others had been painted to look like ceramics. Animals, trolls, toys with moving parts, angels, even a life-size creche complete with chickens and eggs, were for sale. Wood carving has been a specialty of the Val Gardena for centuries, and the area is said to have 365 carvers. The local church and museum have permanent collections of carvings donated by the artisans. website goodbye in italian

Besides wood carving, the village’s main business seemed to be maintenance. Never before had I seen a town so well cared for. Everywhere, men were painting or making repairs. Shopkeepers swept their sidewalks twice a day, as a street sweeper patrolled the spotless streets. Even the highways leading to town were swept. One night at 11 o’clock, the manager of the hotel opposite ours was washing the sidewalk in front of his cafe.

We bought cheese, sausage, rolls, and wine (a light, fruity Barbera for $2) for lunch, then headed for the high meadows of the Alpe di Siusi. After an hour, when we seemed almost at eye level with the surrounding peaks, we wandered across a carpet of crocus and blue gentian and ate our picnic on a bench in the sun in front of an unoccupied cabin, one of several built for local shepherds. Back at the hotel, we soaked our sore muscles in the spacious tub in our bathroom, then enjoyed a Campari on our balcony and watched the shadows reclaim the hills. For dinner, we drove four miles up into the mountains to Albergo Panider Sattel, a Swiss-style chalet, where a typical Tyrolean meal-comprising German dishes-completed our day We had planned to leave for Cortina, but were enjoying St. Ulrich so much that we decided to stay on for the rest of our trip. For the next three days, we hiked and picnicked on the network of trails in the Siusi. The maps were excellent indicators of the length, duration, and degree of difficulty of each trek. None was strenuous. Most are accessible by chairlifts, cog railways, and gondolas operated throughout the year.

Hikers can stay overnight at the alpine refuges located along the trails. It was too early in the year for us to do that (see page 113), but our first choice would have been the Refugio Bolzano di Monte Pez, a grande dame of these shelters, which are spaced a day’s hike apart.

We spent our last evening at the top of the 7,500-foot-high Sella Pass, just north of town, where wed driven to watch the sunset. From there, the entire range of the Dolomites was spread out before us, bathed in the glow of the setting sun. And before leaving the next day, we booked our hotel room for the following spring.

[Sidebar] The author’s work has appeared in Medical Economics and the travel section of The New York Times.

[Sidebar] What to expect if you go HOtels. Serendipity led the author of the accompanying article, cardiologist Joe Wise, and his wife to the Hotel Stetteneck in the little town of St. Ulrich in Italy’s Val Gardena. They were able to find a pleasant room because they went between seasons. “But you’re better off with a reservation,” Wise stresses.

If you like old world village charm with 21 st-century amenities, Wise recommends that you check out the Stetteneck (0471-79 65 63) and these other hotels in St. Ulrich/Ortisei (the descriptions are his): web site goodbye in italian

Hotel Adler: Glamorous accommodations with large garden and indoor pool and tennis courts (0471-79 62 03; info;, click on hotels/lodgings).

Hotel Cendevaves: In nearby Santa Cristina, with mountain views and indoor pool (0471-79 65 62; cendevaves@val;

Apartments and rooms in private homes are also listed by the local tourist office (0471-79 63 28; [email protected]). Most prices are reasonable, since Italians and Germans are very frugal travelers,” Wise observes. Accommodations cost slightly more in winter.

Italy’s international telephone code is 39; the country is six hours ahead of the Eastern US.

HIking. The trails of the Alpe di Siusi offer miles of classic Alpine hikes. They’re accessible via numerous year-round ski lifts from the Val Gardena, at Mont Seuc gondola, or by road from the town of Siusi.

Trails are well maintained, but hiking boots are a must. So is a waterproof jacket, as mountain showers can descend quickly. No climbing skills are required. Trail maps are reliable and are available at most hotels, at the Val Gardena tourist offices, and at the numerous branches of the Associazione Guide Alpine.

The best times for hiking are spring and fall Most mountain refuges are open from June to October.

Side trips. Take the spectacular Alpine loop over Passo di Gardena to Corvara and return via Arrabo and Passo Sella.

Perhaps the grandest scenic drive in Europe is the Great Dolomite Road, a stunning 140-mile round trip from Bolzano to Cortina (also accessible from the Passo di Sella).

Getting there. The nearest airport in Italy is Bolzano, served by daily Tyrolean Airways flights from Frankfurt and Rome. To the north, Innsbruck Airport (in Austria) is served by several direct flights daily from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Vienna, and Zurich.

From either Bolzano or Verona in the south or Innsbruck to the north, take the Brenner Motorway (A22). Exit at Klausen/Groden (Chiusa/Val Gardena). It’s about a 20-minute drive to St. Ulrich.

Wise, Joe


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