July 2014 
Vol. 7
Table of Contents


matt Matt kayaking with his son Max.  Matt is in the front and Max in the back holding the paddle. A note from Matt....       
By: Matthew Dietz   



July marks the 24th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, America's unambiguous mandate to rid this country of disability discrimination, which President George H.W. Bush declared as an obstacle for persons with disabilities to "Independence, freedom of choice, control ... and the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the right mosaic of the American mainstream." When he signed the ADA, President Bush stated - "Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down."  Twenty-Four years later, the fight continues, this time for the U.S. Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which ensures that persons with disabilities internationally have the same human rights and dignity as persons with disabilities in the United States. Martin Luther King stated, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", and as such, we will continue to fight!




hurricaneHurricane Preparedness

By: Anastasia Gaertner

Two red flags with black squares, indicating a hurricane.


 The summer may be winding down, but hurricane season sure isn't. Last month we learned how to identify and prepare your personal support network for any challenges you may face as a person with a disability during an emergency or disaster. Now it is time to prepare yourself so that you know what you will need and how you will be affected should a hurricane or tropical storm head your way. Completing a thorough personal assessment is a crucial step in disaster preparation because it gives you a chance to really consider all of your current needs and any potential changes to your needs that may be the result of a hurricane or other disaster. The key to successfully completing a personal assessment is to consider each aspect of your life, your current capabilities, and how these may be affected by a disaster. Areas to consider include aspects of daily living, getting around regularly, and evacuation procedures. (click here to read more)



julieKids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo
 Someone I Love  by: Lori Hickman 

"Someone I love relies on me in ways you will never understand.
Someone I love endures pain and challenges that break my heart and renew my spirit at the same time.
Someone I love is unable to advocate for themselves for thi...ngs that most of us take for granted. Someone I love will never have the opportunities that every child should have. Someone I love will need unconditional love and support after I am gone, and that frightens me to the core. Someone I love encounters pity, stereotyping responses, and prejudice at every turn because they look, act/or learn differently than others. Someone I love has needs that require me to allow "outsiders" to have power and input in areas that should be mine alone to meet. Someone I love will continue to look to me for everything in life long after other children are able to assume a place as part of the world.
Someone I love has needs that require more time and energy than I can sometimes give. Someone I love has needs that mean I am not able to meet the needs of my own.
Someone I love has needs that have become the driving force behind major decisions my family makes.
Someone I love has changed me in ways I will never be able to describe.
Someone I love has taught me about love and about the really important things in life...
And still others don't understand what it is like to be me, they aren't living in my skin." 


Kristin Westerhorstmann and MacKenzie Ruroede. Thank you to our amazing summer interns. 
MacKenzie Ruroede and Kristin Westerhorstmann are both law students at the University of Miami School of Law.




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.



DIG, the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, The Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association and the FL Bar standing committee on diversity and inclusion presented the Henry Latimer Inclusion Luncheon on June 27, 2014, in Orlando, FL.  The luncheon was captioned by Tanya Ward English's firm, Caption Crew, a division of Florida Realtime Reporting Services, Inc. and Absolute Quality Interpreting Services owned by Lisa Schaefermeyer.

 Annual FL Bar meeting, luncheon.    Interpreter signing in ASL at FL Bar luncheon.Luncheon at the annual FL Bar meeting.      


Annual FL Bar Luncheonx, x, and Aaron Bates at the Annual FL Bar luncheon.







Thank you to AQI Services and Caption Crew for all of their help at the luncheon.
 Logo for Absolute Quality Interpreting     Logo for Caption Crew
Lester and Sharon Langer winning an award from the Miami-Dade Justice Association. Congratulations to Sharon and Lester Langer on winning The Manny Crespo Award at the Annual Judicial Reception of the Miami-Dade Justice Association. We are so proud of you. 
Kristin Westerhorstmann My Summer at DIG
By: Kristin Westerhorstmann

Much like racism or sexism, discrimination based on a disability often falls within the common, yet mistaken, school of thought that these issues simply do not exist anymore, or at the very least, happen rarely. I am a law student getting ready to enter my second year at the University of Miami and have been interning with Disability Independence Group for the summer. From day one, it was apparent that this kind of discrimination is still very prevalent and expands into all areas of law, including criminal, landlord-tenant, federal, state, employment, and many more. (click here to read more)



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sharon scales of justice
A Service Animal...What Does Florida Say?   

By: Sharon Langer


Florida actually has a little known statute that defines a service animal differently than the Federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does. While the ADA limits service animals to dogs and, in a special separate provision, miniature horses, the Florida law seems to be broader using the words "SERVICE ANIMALS"...not limiting it to DOGS. They clearly state that a service animal is not a pet, but as long as the service animal is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability, that animal meets the Florida test. I was excited to learn about this statute while preparing to be interviewed on television about a recent news story in both print and TV media about a blind woman whose service dog became gravely ill in a restaurant. Her calls to the police, 911, and 311 for help went rebuffed. I have attached a link to the channel 6 news story. (click here to read more)


Click here to see the news story.





If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org

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 debbie@justdigit.org


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

By: Debbie Dietz  

We are finalizing the details of our first video.  Stay tuned for more details next month.


You can order your own wallet card for free on our website at: http://www.justdigit.org/wallet-cards/.


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.

                                      Shop Amazon Smile

In Memory of Dr. Robin Parker

By: Lester Langer

Dr. Robin Parker recently passed away at age 50 from pancreatic cancer. She was a leader in unlocking the mysteries of autism.

I did not know Dr. Parker, but I wish that I had met her. Her work in designing apps that allow children and young adults to merge into mainstream society will live long after her. It is her legacy to us all.

I explored her website, PRAACTICAL AAC. It is filled with articles and apps that can assist parents, children, and young adults in developing a better way to process and use information. Her universal design will help all people with and without disabilities to function and interact better with others. The site is easy to navigate, and it contains useful, everyday advice. There are many apps on the site, like "Every Move Counts," which is about empowerment, and "PRAACTICAL Tips," which is about building communication and literacy skills. There is so much more to see and learn.

In honor of Dr. Parker, I encourage all of our readers to take a spin on PRAACTICAL AAC, and share with us your thoughts and experiences. You will be glad you did.

Rachel Goldstein

A Spotlight on the Exceptional Theater Company

By: Rachel Goldstein   


           Lights! Camera! Action! The spotlight is on the Exceptional Theater Company , (ETC) a unique 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, designed to teach theatre to individuals of all ages with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The Exceptional Theater Company continues to grow throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, with over 20 drama classes and a summer program in Asheville, North Carolina. Most of the classes meet once a week during the academic school year and are designed to teach theatrical skills with fun exercises that promote verbal skills, movement, self-confidence and socialization while encouraging free thinking and creativity. The actors and volunteers work hard all year to develop the themes, scripts, costumes and props for their performances. ETC presents an unforgettable annual benefit show that includes a live performance by the actors, a family style catered dinner, raffles and silent and live auctions. (click here to read more)       


   Actors, Lauren Barney and Joshua Goldstein, in action during ETC's performance of AladdinETC actors in the spotlight performing their rendition of Cinderella at the Annual Benefit Show




Visit our website

cil 2014 Broward CIL ADA Expo -- July 12, 2014

We took our Fair Housing Videos in ASL to the expo and allowed everyone to watch the videos and give us feed back.  It was so much fun.  Every hour we had a raffle and our booth was filled with people waiting to see who would win.  Thank you to Sharon, Jordan, Mackenzie, and Kristin for sitting at the table. See the pictures below.  Jordan actually had to stand on the table to get everyone's attention for the raffles.  We also gave away chocolate medallions and chocolate "I Love You" pops in ASL.

A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL. Jordan Nassar at the Broward CIL Expo 2014.

Logo for Accessible Communication for the Deaf Thank you to ACD for helping at the CIL Broward event. 
bochi Debbie Dietz and Patricia Bochi at Books and Books Event.

 Debbie and Patricia at Books and Books in Coral Gables on July 16, 2014.  Patricia was amazing!!!  Congratulations.



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: www.yourupwardjourney.com


Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey


litigation the front of the building where treatment alternatives is located.

Litigation: Treatment Alternatives

By: Matthew Dietz 


Treatment Alternatives - The importance of having sober houses in residential areas -


"I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three ..."Martin Luther King Jr.


Alcoholism and drug addiction are considered impairments under the definitions of a disability, because as a medical matter, addiction is a chronic illness that is never cured but from which one may nonetheless recover. It is a truism that the longer one is in alcohol or drug abuse treatment and surrounded by recovering people, the better the outcomes for long term sobriety. Group living arrangements in a sober house help recovering addicts to keep sober because of the transparency, and they also provide residents with fewer opportunities to be lonely -- a major trigger for relapse into addiction.

 (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 debbie@justdigit.org.

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

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