January 2014 
Vol. 1

Table of Contents


"Why?"  is the most common question asked when I said that I was going to change my practice into a non-profit disability rights advocacy center.  My reasons are each and every person with a disability that I have represented over the past eighteen years.  With every single person, the issue was not about money, but about the dignity of being a human being, and having the same ability to enjoy life as any other person.  Even when I was not successful, I was always able to give my clients the power and dignity to fight for their equality and humanity.  Read more.   

BalloonsBalloons and Tunes Holiday Party


On Friday, December 13, 2013, Disability Independence Group held its first annual 'Balloons and Tunes' Holiday Party at Broward Children's Center. To make the holidays special for the children who live at Broward Children's Center, DIG staff met with the children and gave each a shiny Mylar balloon, with balloons ranging from SpongeBob Squarepants to the Little Mermaid, a CD or DVD, depending on each child's preference, and stickers. It was a festive day full of smiles and laughter, with DIG staff and the children having wheelchair races down the halls, playing games with the balloons, and adorning the children in stickers.

DIG staff was determined to help make the holidays great for the children at BCC, but it was not only the children who were rewarded, the Balloons and Tunes Holiday Party with the children at BCC left a lasting impression on the DIG staff. DIG plans to make the Balloons and Tunes Party a holiday tradition and is already thinking of ways to make the party bigger and better for the children at Broward Children's Center next year.




deafvideosFair Housing Deaf Video Project

This year DIG worked with the National Fair Housing Alliance on a joint project, funded by HUD, to create videos in America Sign Language (ASL).  We developed, wrote, filmed, and produced twelve videos on various fair housing and fair lending topics.  The videos are in ASL and have captioning.  Each video starts with a small vignette that sets up a fair housing/fair lending scenario and then explains the ramifications of the Fair Housing Act and other national laws that protect persons with disabilities. We created a website to host the videos and to be a resource center.   Visit the website to see the videos.

kidsKids Crusaders Corner 


Happy New Year, and welcome to the Kids Crusaders corner of the Disability Independence Group, otherwise known as DIG.

I am honored to be a part of such an amazing organization and will be writing for Kids Crusaders from the perspective on being the parent of a child with special needs. This will be a place where people can come together, ask questions, share stories, find information and support. Read more.


Ask Julie a question. 


artArt and More

The Mighty Equalizer


Inside a body askew, I ambulate electronically atop four wheels. Alone, I often draw stares as something would from the extra- terrestrial. However, while He prances gleefully by my side, His inviting allure draws a smile from even the most stoic of faces. While as organic as I, He exudes a spirit almost God-like in nature that can be felt by all open to receive it. Read more. 




I have been one of the first volunteers at DIG and I have learned so much since I started one year ago. First, let me introduce myself. I recently retired from 20 years as a Circuit Judge in Miami Dade County, Florida. I now have a mediation and alternative dispute practice and when I have the time I work at the DIG office. I am the "do anything" person, from answering phones to sitting second chair in major trials. What an experience it has been and I have learned more then I would have ever imagined.  Read more. 


If you are interested in volunteering email Sharon at Sharon@justdigit.org.



 wheelchairMs. Wheelchair Florida 


This April I will be participating in the Ms. Wheelchair Florida competition. The purpose of the Ms. Wheelchair Florida, Inc. to bring awareness about all people with disabilities, especially the importance of community integration and  access to real choices for people with disabilities when it comes to employment, education, and housing.

Read more.

As a requirement for the competition I must raise $250 from the community for my registration fee. I am seeking ten $25 sponsorships. If you are interested in sponsoring me and helping me spread the message to end violence against women with disabilities, go to our website and click the donate now button! Remember that your donation is tax deductible and greatly appreciated! 



dudekLitigation: A.R. v. Dudek
   Institutionalization of Medically Complex Children
   By: Matt Dietz


Florida has been home for approximately three thousand children with severe disabilities who require constant nursing care or supervision on a 24-hour per day basis to stay alive. These disabilities could be the result of a trauma, such as a shaken baby syndrome, near drowning, or an auto accident, or could be a condition with which the child was born. Many of these children have tracheotomies, gastrostomy tubes, or ventilators, and as a result of their conditions, most of these children have degrees of developmental or intellectual disabilities.  Read more.




bhogLitigation: Bhogaita v. Altamonte Springs Condominium Assoc.   
   A veteran is permitted his support animal in his home
   By: Matt Dietz    


Ajit Bhogaita is a United States Air Force veteran who, like hundreds of thousands of other veterans, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"). As a result of his PTSD, Mr. Bhogaita attempted to take his own life, and then medicated with anti-depressants for his chronic depression and anxiety. Because of this disability, he has difficulty sleeping and is unable to form close personal or professional relationships. In 2008, Mr. Bhogaita received a dog, a pit-bull terrier named Kane. For the first time in years, Mr. Bhogaita could sleep and the dog alleviated his anxiety and depression to the extent that he stopped seeking continual and emergency treatment for his disability.  Read more. 

 houLitigation: Houghton v. Gulfstream Park
Equal Access for Persons with Mobility Disabilities
By: Matt Dietz  

Gulfstream Park is a multi-million dollar racetrack in Miami, Florida. Next year, the owners plan to install a giant thirty million dollar Pegasus statue 11 stories tall, with the bronze-and-steel winged horse trampling an equally massive dragon at its feet. The statute will stretch 220 feet long and will be shipped in 60 packing containers from China. Despite millions of dollars that were infused in this racetrack since 2004, it has decided not to provide access to persons who use wheelchairs so they can actually come to the track to see the races.  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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