March 2015 
Vol. 3
Table of Contents


Matt standing next to a giant blow up dog with the dog's paw touching Matt's head. notefrommattA note from Matt....       
By: Matthew Dietz    


According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the right for education for persons with disabilities are essential to the development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity.  Today, there should be no limits.  This month, DIG has filed an action to strengthen sexual and reproductive education for the Deaf, provide effective technologies and, the use of alternate therapies to encourage participation in society.

cartoon of a school house with an Americana flag on the left. accommodationsClassroom Accommodations

By: Anastasia Gaertner

Children who have a learning disability and may be struggling to reach their full potential in the classroom could require an accommodation or a modification to help them thrive. An accommodation is a change in the way that a student takes in information or communicates their knowledge back to the teacher, but it does not alter the standards or expectations for the subjects or tests. A modification is a change in the delivery, content, and instructional level of information for a student. It is a change in what the student is taught and what is expected of them on assessments of learning. These kinds of adjustments are tailored to each student's strengths and areas of difficulty to provide them with the most beneficial learning environment.


julieKids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo
This is the final part of Julie's story. 


Nick smiling with Mickey Mouse on the airplane.


Welcome back to the March edition of Kids Crusaders Corner. This month I will wrap up the last of my 3 part story that began in January regarding a solo trip that I took my son Nick on for his 16th birthday. (If you haven't read the first two parts, please do, as it will help to make the story complete.)

Our adventures with traveling solo through Disney were truly that, adventures. In the first 2 articles you could see that we encountered a few obstacles that were "breathtaking" in a special sort of way and a lot of memorable events that occurred which, with no doubt in my mind, makes Disney the Magical place where dreams really do come true.Nick's birthday cake. It is in the shape of a jet blue airplane.

In last month's article, I explained how the cast members at the Crystal Palace restaurant made Nick's 16th birthday so unforgettable by giving him a life-sized stuffed animal Mickey Mouse (which I had to creatively find ways to navigate both my son in a wheelchair and this over-sized plush Mickey through the remainder of our day at the Magic Kingdom and back to the hotel.)

Mickey Mouse sitting in the pilots seat on the airplane.And just when you thought the fun had stopped since we were to be flying back home the next day, it had just begun all over again.  (click here to read more)


artandmoreArt and More

By: Chris Stein  


I write to separate my mind from my body. My readers can hear my drunken diction only if I want them to hear it. They only see my skewed body when I want them to see it. My ability is only defied by the limitations that lay between my machine and me.

The #GetYourMindOut campaign is an initiative to enable those with physical limitations to express themselves in the literary world by:

       Building alliances among writers with various abilities.

       Organizing workshops.

       Funding adaptive equipment.

       Raising scholarship money.

Everyone deserves to get their mind out. Any volunteers to assist me with this initiative would be appreciated. My goal is to build a business plan to create a 501C3 corporation.

Please contact Christopher at

Thank you for your support.


Picture of the Echo Pen slightly tilted on a angle as if it was being used to write.

livescribepenLivescribe computerized pen

helps students with disabilities  

By: Sharon Langer


      The UC Berkeley Disabled Students Program did a pilot test of a computerized pen using its students with learning disabilities. The goal of the study was to see if use of the pen would eliminate the need for note takers in the classroom. Forty students with a variety of physical and learning disabilities participated using the Echo Smartpen. The smartpen records audio from the classroom, along with a digital version of the student's handwritten notes and syncs the audio and notes, and then they can be accessed for review through the pen itself or through Livescribe's computer software.

The pilot project revealed several things: the pen reduced classroom anxiety about taking notes, so students were able to concentrate and pay better attention. If a student was an auditory learner, the pen was a big help, but if they had an auditory processing problem, the pen offered little benefit. The smartpen is another tool that may help in the educational setting and is readily available now for those who might benefit from its use. They cost around $120 dollars and may be a tool for your student.


If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at

Presentation accommodations alter the way that insFour books surrounded by a pair of earphones.tructions and information are presented to a student. Examples of this type of accommodation include hearing text read aloud, receiving written materials in a larger print, listening to audio instead of reading the text, having instructions written down or spoken aloud, or having visual presentations accompany verbal material. This can affect how the student understands and retains instructions and information in the classroom.a magnifying glass that shows the words large print being magnified on a page out of a book.


symbol for twitter, a blue square with a white lower case t. a blue twitter bird in a white square. Follow us on Twitter:  





Seth and Dani hugging Becca sethMedical Marijuana and Epilepsy....

The Wait Continues for Medically Needy Children and Other Qualified Patients

By: Seth Hyman


This is the first in a series of article by Seth on this topic



I've learned from being the parent of nine year old medically complex Rebecca "Becca", that for one reason or another, it always seems that children and individuals wDanielle, Becca, and Seth sitting in a restaurant.ith disabilities are too often the ones who are neglected and end up with the short end of the stick. My story sheds light on our family's personal plight with our involvement in achieving Florida's first passed Medical Marijuana legislation (Senate Bill 1030) and patients like my little Becca who continues to wait not understanding that every day that goes by could be her last. Through all of Becca's limitations of not being able to walk, talk and being tube fed, it's her intractable epilepsy that is taking years off her life.  (click here to read more)

About Seth Hyman



head shot of Scott LefflerCongratulations to Board Member 

Scott Leffler!!


Scott was just appointed

the Vice President and Treasurer of PolyOne.


Click hereto read more.


Click hereto learn more about Scott.  



Response accommodations refer to the way in which a student completes assignments or tests to demonstrate their knowledge. An a cartoon of a head speaking answers to a testexample of this is allowing a student to take a test or complete an assignment orally rather than writing down their answers. This allows the student to convey what they have learned in a format that may be more comfortable for them than writing the answers down.



3 arrows that say 1. your say, 2. my say, 3. compromise.mediation Mediation

By: Lester Langer


As I described in my first article, mediation has been around for a long time. Formalized mediation really started after the Industrial Revolution in the United States in the late 1880's. The purpose of those early efforts was primarily to resolve labor disputes and railroad issues.

A good definition of mediation is "a process of negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party who assists the parties to pursue a mutually agreeable settlement of their conflict." The main features of mediation are confidentiality and neutrality. Both these features are essential to allow the parties to open up and be candid with the mediator and protect those confidential conversations from being used against either party in the event the mediation is unsuccessful.

In my next article I will expand on mediation, its pros and cons, and the process.

If you have questions about mediation please email me so I can try to answer them for you directly or through this column.

Lester Langer

Retired Circuit Judge and Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator



Debbie Dietz and Lt. Bart Barta giving a presentation at the Leave a Legacy, Philanthropy Miami Event. walletcardThe Wallet Card Project 

By: Debbie Dietz  


Lt. Bart Barta and Debbie Dietz attended the Leave a Legacy, Philanthropy Miami Event this month.  They gave a one year update to the Shark Tank and showed the video to over 200 people.  So far the video has been viewed almost 10,000 times and by 121 different countries.  We have made over 800 wallet cards all over the United States including Alaska.


You can watch the video on or website or at: 


You can order your own wallet card for free on our website at:


Just fill out the online form and we will have them mailed to you in about 2 weeks.  If you want to customize the card, please add the details in the comments section.


thank you with a yellow smiley face. Wallet Card Update:


Disability Independence Group would like to thank  Kambiz Tavana for translating the Wallet Card Video into Farsi.  You can now watch the video by clicking on the link below.  He did a story for Radio Farda.


To watch the video click here.


To read the story click here.


cartoon of a green blob that says doom! the homework monster

Because modifications change what the child learns and how they are assessed, they are separate from accommodations. Examples of modifications on assignments could involve completing fewer or different homework problems than peers, writing shorter papers, or completing alternate projects or assignments. Curriculum modifications can include learning different material than the rest of the class, receiving grades using an alternate assessment standard, or being excused from certain projects or assignments.

Amazon smile logo.  
                                      Shop Amazon Smile
Animal Partners Logo

         Like our animal partners Facebook page at:



head shot of Lesly Quin

wipaWork Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects


By: Lesly Quin


WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from SSA to provide all Social Security and SSI disability beneficiaries (including transition-to-work aged youth) with free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Each WIPA project has counselors called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) who:

Provide work incentives planning and assistance to our beneficiaries with disabilities to assist them in achieving financial independence;


Conduct outreach efforts to those beneficiaries (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or state employment support programs; and


Work in cooperation with Federal, state, and private agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities.


If you are one of the many SSDI or SSI disability beneficiaries who want to work, a WIPA project can help you understand the employment supports that are available to you and enable you to make informed choices about work and achieving financial independence.


If you would like to reach out to Lesly contact Jonathan in our office at 305 669 2822 or email him at:


Please click

picture of a boy taking a test in an empty room Another form of accommodation corresponds to the setting in which the child works. A common example of this is having a student complete a test or other in-class individual assignment in a separate, quiet room with fewer distractions. This can also be as simple as assigning a seat that is in a part of the room that will allow the student to learn best without distraction, like away from the window or next to the teacher. Setting accommodations allow students to better focus on what they are learning. 


The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi       Head shot of Patricia Bochi. She is in front of a boat that is in the water.


In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.


The website is: 


Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey




A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL. 

picture of a stop watch Timing and scheduling accommodations change how much time a child has to complete a task or assignment. Examples of these include giving a student extended time to take a test or complete an assignment, allowing a student to take frequent breaks, or breaking up a test or assignment into different sections completed at a different pace. These accommodations can help a student perform better and turn in a better assignment.


Maura and her baby sitting on the couch. Litigation: Are Deaf Women Entitled to Reproductive Choice?

By: Matthew Dietz


 On August 2, 2013, Maura Mena went into a Planned Parenthood location in Miami, Florida.   As a pregnant woman, Maura did not know what her options were at that point and was not sure what she wanted to do. She thought of an abortion. On August 1, 2013, Maura's boyfriend suggested Planned Parenthood. Since Maura did not have a phone, he made the call for her and set up a time for the very next day. It was clear that the boyfriend was in a rush to have the procedure done as soon as possible. Maura did not hear the call. She is deaf.

Like most of Maura's relationships, her boyfriend did not understand American Sign Language and communicated through basic signs and pantomime. As a result of the relationship between Maura and a hearing man, he assumed dominance in all interactions between Maura and others who could hear and understand English. She asked him to make sure that they provided her with an interpreter, but Planned Parenthood advised him that she would need to bring a "translator" with her at the time of the appointment.Maura and her family posing for a picture.  Maura is on the floor sitting with one of her sons, her other son is kneeling behind her, and then her daughter is standing behind them.


On the morning of August 2, Maura arrived first at the Planned Parenthood location in Miami, and her boyfriend arrived late. When Maura arrived for her procedure, she asked her boyfriend, "Where is the interpreter?" Maura was upset and argued with her boyfriend in sign language and in front of the staff about how she needed and wanted an interpreter. Her boyfriend told her to be quiet, as it would cost them more money if she was going to postpone the abortion, and as she was homeless, she did not have any more money to spend. Maura started to cry.  (click here to read more)


See More:


Complaint against Planned Parenthood

Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing. penuins
A Parcel of Penguins
We have great news!  We are going to be able to sell more t-shirts.  Stay tuned for more information. 
If you already have a t-shirt please post a picture of you wearing the t-shirt on our Kids Crusaders Facebook Page.
For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

Donate Now!