August 2014 
Vol. 8
Table of Contents


notefrommatt Matt standing next to the mouth of a fake moose in Jackson Hole, WY. A note from Matt....       
By: Matthew Dietz   



Disability Independence Group in Your Community


Litigation has its limitations. It directly effects one person's conflict with another. This month, we are focusing on the different ways that DIG is impacting and raising awareness in the community as a whole. Our goal is to catalyze systemic change - and this month, we are providing testing accommodations, domestic violence services for the Deaf, transition services to ensure community-based living, police related safety for persons with autism spectrum disorders, and ordinances to secure emergency care for service animals.


Can you DIG it?




Headshot of Aaron Bates dressed in a suit and tie.aaron Welcome Aaron Bates

As an individual living with a severe neuromuscular disability, I've become accustomed to the myriad of obstacles and naysayers you inevitably encounter. As I've grown older, I've also begun to truly appreciate the import of overcoming these seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, if I'm encountering such significant pushback, how difficult is it for those disabled individuals without a law degree to scale these walls? It's this question, and its solution, which serve as the impetus for my decision to join the amazing team at the Disability Independence Group. (click here to read more)


Kiddle, a yellow lab, service animal wearing a halter and sitting on the sidewalk. Kiddle's Ordinance

By: Matthew Dietz

On July 6, 2014, Nancy Alfonso's worst nightmare occurred while she was having lunch at a restaurant in Doral with her friend Luz Rosenthal. Nancy's guide dog Kiddle and Luz's guide dog Chelsea were with the friends, when Kiddle became violently ill and started vomiting inside the restaurant. An emergency veterinarian was about a mile away, and no one would help.  


The restaurant called 911, but they did not assist animals. An off-duty police officer was at the restaurant and would not help. He said, "Ah - it's a dog" and went back to his seat. Forty-five minutes passed before a Good Samaritan drove Kiddle to the vet. Unfortunately, it was too late, and Kiddle died. (click here to read more)

hurricaneHurricane Preparedness

By: Anastasia Gaertner

Two red flags with black squares, indicating a hurricane.


It may seem like hurricane season is nearing its end, but we are still a ways off from the season's official peak, which occurs from mid-August to late October. This time is when storms are likely to be at their worst, so as the peak of the season draws nearer, it is increasingly important to make sure that you, your family, and your pets and service animals are prepared. By now, you and your support network should fully understand your hurricane preparedness plan and how you plan to navigate a disaster with a disability. (click here to read more)



American Red Cross information booklet for disaster preparedness for people with disabilities
julieKids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo
This summer Julie and her husband took Nick to a fun evening event.  They took Nick to Painting with a Twist.  They all worked together and made a beautiful masterpiece.
Nick holds his painting with Julie and his dad. The painting is a tree with the moon behind it.    Nick is painting with an adaptive paintbrush holder.


Chris Stein and his dog Morgan
Art and More 

Stay tuned for more stories from Chris in the future.  Chris is currently working on an independent studies project at FIU on Ernest Hemmingway.


Animal Partners Logo

         Like our animal partners Facebook page at:



mackenzie Headshot of MacKenzie Ruroede sitting outside
My Summer at DIG
By: MacKenzie Ruroede
 As a legal intern for Disability Independence Group (DIG), I was introduced to many legal issues that are incurred by individuals with hearing impairments, significant illnesses, and service and emotional support animals. I also worked on cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender. Many of the issues faced by DIG's clients are unbelievable, unless you have spoken with the discriminated individual, or you have seen video footage of abuse. There were several times when I found myself extremely frustrated with the lack of consideration or thought used by those in positions of authority when determining how to communicate with deaf and hearing impaired individuals. One such example of this is the lack of availability of effective communication methods to deaf individuals in hospitals. (click here to read more)


sharon gavel
Domestic Violence and the Deaf

The deaf and hard of hearing world is unique because of the difficulty in communicating with others. The world of the victim of domestic violence is also one of isolation and lack of access to the outside world. A batterer typically isolates their victim to instill dependency. When you combine both realities, it is easy to understand why a deaf victim takes up to seven times longer to leave his or her abuser than it would for a hearing victim.  (click here to read more)


If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at

the word summer is spelled out and floating in the water with hot air balloons in the air. Send us your summer photos.  Show us what you did this summer and we will post them in the next newsletter. Send them to


Nick and Julie are on a roller coaster. Both people are smiling with their hands in the air Nick is in a kayak smiling awaiting departure into the water.  


Jodi Engelberg, Diane Adreon, Debbie Dietz, and Lt. Barta holding a checksharkShark Tank Update...   

By: Debbie Dietz  

We have hired Jon Kent and Kent Creative to help us make our video. We will be filming the video at the end of this month.   


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 within a week.  If you want to customize the card, please add the details in the comments section.

Flyer for the Miranda Rights Training at CARD on September 20, 2014.  We are doing a training at CARD on September 20, 2014.  The training is for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families. 
To sign up: click here
                                      Shop Amazon Smile
Rachel Goldstein

rachelUpdate on the Settlement between the Department of Justice and the Law School Admission Council

By: Rachel Goldstein   


In Volume 5 of DIG's newsletter, Litigation Director Matthew Dietz, discussed the Department of Justice's May 2014 announcement of a settlement with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the administrators of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for denying disability accommodations for test takers.(click here to read more)




Visit our website

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

Lester Langer sitting at a table smiling in a Kids Crusaders T-shirt

lesterI read an interesting story in the Miami Herald the other day. It was about Matt Cottle. 

By: Lester Langer

Matt has autism. He was bagging groceries and pushing carts for the past 6 years before he started Stuttering King Bakery.

He is now an entrepreneur turning out cookies, brownies and scones for cafes, businesses, and groups that need catering.

Matt's old boss told him he could do nothing but bag groceries and push carts for the rest of his life.

Matt said "No, I am destined to do something greater than that"

And he has. According to the article, he nets $1,200.00 per month from the bakery, and his business is growing.

If given a chance many autistic people can run their own businesses, work, and be productive.

The moral of the story for me is one should not be limited by what other people think you can do or not do because you have a disability. Go for your dreams.

I recommend this article for your consideration. It is very inspiring with another example of entrepreneurship.



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


Rows of students sitting in desks taking a test

Litigation: Accommodations for High Stakes Testing

By: Matthew Dietz   


  Academic success is often measured by a score on a test. A test score can make the difference in being accepted into a desired school or in obtaining a professional license. However, a learning disability of a mental illness or disorder, or other disability, can derail a person's career or learning goals when an accommodation is not given to level the playing field. In fact, all schools, testing organizations and professional licensing organizations should (and usually do) provide for testing accommodations. (click here to read more)


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!

Facebook    Twitter    LinkedIn    Pinterest