January 2015 
Vol. 1
Table of Contents


Matt at the Save Dade event. Miami Beach, FL noteA note from Matt....       
By: Matthew Dietz   


As Buddha said, "It is better to travel well than to arrive."  Life itself is about the journey, and the goal is to ensure that the journey is as stress free and accessible as possible.  This month, we are highlighting resources for persons with disabilities to ensure travel services are accessible and resources that are available.  If you know of any travel-related business that goes above and beyond for its customers with disabilities, let me know!

Jack Russell Terrier sitting holding a stick with a bindle (also known as a hobo stick)dogtravel
Have Dog - Will Travel 


How to travel with your service or emotional support animal

For many, travelling without their service animals or emotional support animal is not an option. However, in many cases, the concern and fear of being denied access is enough to keep some from traveling with their animal. (click here to read more)


julie Kids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo
This is Part 1 of Julie's story.  Stay tuned for more in the next newsetter.   

Happy New Year everyone! We are off to a chilly start here in upstate New York with temperatures hovering at -8 degrees (not counting the wind chills). So to warm things up a little, I thought I would share with you a special memory that I have from warmer climates.

When myNick with his16th  birthday cake.  The cake is in the shape of a JetBlue airplane. son Nick turned 16 years old, I surprised him with a trip to Disney for 3 nights and 4 days. This was a "mom and me" trip (which I continued the tradition for my other 2 kids when they turned 16 as well, only they chose New York City!) It took me 7 hours to assemble and hand pipe frost the JetBlue airplane cake (with the help of my husband) which we used to surprise Nick with at his party. (I almost wanted to cry when it came time to serve the cake, as cousins were requesting a wing; someone wanted the cockpit, and then the tail piece. It was twisted humor when my husband yelled out to the remaining adults still unserved, "ok, who wants some of the fuselage?") (click here to read more)

Nick next to a skeleton at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. Nick with a Disney hat on with mickey ears and a pirate scarf.

Adriana using our new binding machine to finish an appellate brief.
Adriana is using our new binding machine to finish an appellate brief.

Disney World*****My Holiday vacation

By: Sharon Langer


Now that I am an active member of the DIG legal team, I view the world through a different lens. I find that I cannot visit a restaurant, a hotel or even Disney World without looking around to see if those places are universally accessible to all.

My trip over the holidays put a smile on my face for several reasons. First, I saw many folks in the park who were PWDs enjoying the fun, and they were able to navigate the parks and enjoy themselves. Second, the people around me seemed tolerant and helpful, and lastly, I also saw several employees of Disney who were PWDs. (click here to read more)

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org
Finalist in the Kimpton Hotel dog guest contest.  Black Labrador with a camouflage vest with a logo of a star and Warrior Canine patch on it. doghotel

Dog Friendly Hotels

Like all other public accommodations, hotels are required to allow persons with service animals in any room in the hotel, and provide equal accommodations to its guests with service animals. However, many hotels have realized that all dogs, not only service dogs, are part of the family, and vacations would not be the same without the family dog. Now, while I fully believe that service animals are a necessary accommodation and aide for a person with a disability, the goal for most accessibility should be universal accessible design in both architectural design and in policies and procedure. So, the hotels and resorts that I prefer roll out the welcome mat, bowl, and toys for the hardest working dogs in the business. (click here to read more)

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Kevin McGuire head shot.


By: Kevin McGuire


AbleRoad, a company that connects people with accessible places, is a website and app that allows people with disabilities and medical conditions - including those who use a wheelchair or have other mobility, vision, hearing or cognitive disabilities - and their families and caregivers to review any public space or business.


AbleRoad is the most comprehensive website and app available for helping people with disabilities. The company has worked with Yelp, so users can see both the Yelp and AbleRoad ratings for a business on the same screen, with up to 200 results per search. The app allows users to add ratings and upload photos while on location and rate them for many factors relating to ease of access. (click here to read more)



Traveling with a Disability

By: Anastasia Gaertner


Traveling with a disability or with a person who is disabled can be a hassle and can create stress for what should be a fun experience. There are many different ways to minimize the hassle that can arise from planning a trip and accounting for a disability. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a help line to assist travelers with disabilities prior to their flight. This can help prepare you for what to expect when going through security checkpoints. The number for this service is 1-855-787-2227.


It may also be a good idea to contact any hotels or other places you will be visiting to find out about their policies and accessibility, especially if you are traveling somewhere where there are not the same accessibility laws as you may be used to.


Preparation is important for a smooth trip, and knowing what to expect is a large part of that. This includes packing all of the necessary equipment, as well as backups and alternates, contacting airlines, hotels, travel agents, etc. to ensure that your needs will be met as much as possible during your trip, and contacting any other organizations or companies that may be helpful to you as you are traveling.


Another helpful website, www.disabledtravelers.com contains useful information related to traveling with a disability, including finding a travel agent who specializes in accessibility. Hopefully with enough preparation and research, you and your travel companions will be able to have an enjoyable experience.


Rachel and Bobby at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France rachel 

Traveling Abroad

By Rachel Goldstein  


I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the holidays and bring in the New Year traveling to Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. In Paris, we went to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chapelle, Arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre and took a day trip to Versailles. In Madrid, we did a hop on, hop off tour bus to see as much of the capital and largest city of Spain as possible. We went to the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace, and we saw a Flamenco show. Rachel and Bobby outside of the Louvre Museum in Paris, FranceIn Barcelona, we went to see many of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces, like Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. We also made a trip outside Barcelona to Montserrat, a multi-peaked mountain in Catalonia, Spain. It was an unforgettable trip full of a lot of new experiences! (click here to read more) 


Bischon Frise looking out of a taxi cabtaxis

Taxis and Rental Cars

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination is defined broadly to include refusing to provide transportation service, or providing unequal service, to individuals with disabilities who can physically access the vehicle. The Regulations expressly state that such entities "shall permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles." (click here to read more)

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

By: Debbie Dietz  


Our video is done!  We are so excited to share it with you.   You can watch the video on or website or at:  https://vimeo.com/117175394 


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.

Dr. Diane Adreon, Matthew Dietz, and Lt. Bart Barta speaking at the 22nd Annual CARD Conference in Orlando, FL The Wallet Card Project 

By: Debbie Dietz  

 We presented The Wallet Card Project at the 22nd Annual CARD Conference on Saturday, January 17th, in Orlando, FL.  Matthew Dietz, Lt. Bart Barta, and Dr. Diane Adreon spoke about our project, showed the video, and answered questions from CARD members throughout the state of Florida. 


Anastasia is using our new lamination machine to make wallet cards.
US Navy dog with a sailors hat oncruising Sailor feeding a dog on board of a navy ship

Cruising with your Service dog             

Dogs have long been the companion of our U.S. Navy Sailors on vessels for their ability to build morale. In the early days, dogs often served a more practical function by leading patrols onto foreign shores to search for food and warn of any dangers lurking out of eyesight. Now, most cruise ships allow service animals on board their ships. While service animals are permitted, emotional support animals or pets are not. (click here to read more)

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Headshot of Aaron Bates dressed in a suit and tie. Air Travel with a Disability

By: Aaron Carter Bates  


Speaking from personal experience, one of the most difficult situations I regularly encounter, as both an attorney and an individual with a disability, is air travel. Unbeknownst to most, air travel is one of the least accessible day-to-day accommodations encountered by individuals with disabilities. As such, one of the most common questions I get asked in my practice is: Why does it seem like airlines are so far behind other public accommodations in terms of accessibility? This article hopes to briefly address that question while also giving disabled air travelers some critical tips for reducing the inconvenience of flying as much as possible. (click here to read more)

dog looking out of a window of a airplane flying

Flying with your Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal

 All Air Carriers are legally required to allow both emotional support animals and service animals on flights without charge. However, it is always good to review the requirements for service animals for your particular airline, and whether there are any conditions 

Bulldog lounging on a leather airplane seat with the dog's leash in the hand of a woman in a purple dress

that need to be met. In addition, some international destinations and Hawaii provide additional qualifications for transportation of any animal. (click here to read more) 

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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




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


Mr. Pledger and his guide dog Joelle Litigation: Pledger v. SAS Transportation

By: Matthew Dietz


Jeff and Suzanne Pledger love to go on cruises. Jeff is blind and he uses a guide dog named Joelle. As an advocate for persons with visual impairment, Jeff is the past President of Verizon's Disabilities Issues Awareness Leaders (DIAL), which provides support and resources to Verizon's employees with disabilities. As part of his accomplishments, he was part of the task force to develop the 1996 Telecommunications Act. This Act provided many benefits to people with disabilities. For example, this work force was instrumental in developing cell phones that are easier to use by people who have low vision and hearing loss. (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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