Newsletter 2019
A note from Matt......
a veteran in fatigues getting licked by a big German Sheppard dog
For memorial day, we would like to highlight the Real Warrior Campaign . Veterans take their lives at twice the U.S. suicide rate an d and more than 6,000 veterans are dying by their own hands each year – nearly 20 a day. The Real Warriors Campaign promotes a culture of support for psychological health by encouraging the service members, veterans and their families with care and provides free, confidential resources to reach out for help whether coping with the daily stresses of military life, or concerns like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The military crisis line is at 800-273-8255 – and press 1, or text 838255 .
Featured Article
clip art of a lawyer in a business suit sitting down and multitasking in a yoga position
For more information, please feel free to contact me at

For copies of the relevant documents, see the Rule Change tab on
The Stigma of Second Class Membership in The Florida Bar
Since 1986, the Florida Bar rules maintained two classes of membership for practicing attorneys, the first is a membership in good standing, and the other is a conditional membership for attorneys with a “prior history of drug, alcohol, or psychological problems” who are subject to “conditions of probation.”  The identities of those who are subject to this second class membership, and the contents of their conditions of probation are confidential, and not subject to disclosure to employers or the public; nonetheless, the fact that these lawyers have a past (or current) disability categorized as a quasi-criminal condition that subjects them to a probationary status is demeaning and entirely unnecessary. Second class membership unequivocally connotes inferiority and probation also carries of stigma of punishment for bad acts.
In August, Disability Independence Group and a group of over 50 petitioners will submit a petition to the Supreme Court of Florida to abolish this rule, and create a separate rule that allows the Supreme Court to regulate the admission of lawyers who have a current substance abuse disorder or mental illness that may put the public at risk.
DIG in the News
April 30, 2019 - How a violent confrontation led to a military veteran’s death - WPLG Local 10 -

May 22, 2019 - Minds Over Matters: An Examination of Mental Health in the Legal Profession - What Is Compassion Fatigue and Why Are Lawyers Suffering From It?, Daily Business Review -  

Disabled World - Disability ID Cards - How and Where to Obtain One,

May 9, 2019, Student languishing after years in special needs program, Sarasota Herald Tribune,
May 21, 2019, Did Sarasota schools sacrifice special needs students for school grade?, Sarasota Herald Tribune,
Out & About with DIG

GAL Specialized Advocacy for Children
May 30-31, 2019
Orlando, FL

21st Annual Family Cafe
June 7-9, 2019
Orlando, FL

FL Bar Annual Convention
June 26-29, 2019
Boca Raton, FL
ad for the puppy pit at the florida bar with a row of puppies on the bottom of the ad
Goat Yoga at the Florida Bar Convention

June 27, 2019
7am or 8:30am

South Inlet Park
Boca Raton, FL
(5 minute drive from hotel)
DIG In! For Equal Justice
It is that time of the year when attorneys must strive to satisfy their professional responsibility to provide pro bono service. We are hoping that this year you will
DIG in! for Equal Justice and make at least a $350.00 contribution to:

Disability Independence Group Inc.

This will satisfy your responsibility and help us continue to: 

Guaranty the rights of all persons with disabilities equal opportunity to live in the community by educating and advocating for their rights.

Fight discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities, and work with employers and governments to ensure that persons with disabilities have adequate job opportunities.

Ensure that persons with disabilities have safe interactions with law enforcement through The WALLET CARD PROJECT .  This is DIG’s signature efforts in conjunction with police departments to heighten the awareness and communication between law enforcement and people with disabilities.  

Your $350.00 or more contribution will satisfy The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Responsibility to provide pro bono legal services.

Please make you tax deductible donation using this link ,

or mail a check to: 
Disability Independence Group Inc.
2990 SW 35 Avenue  
Miami, FL 33133   
Matt and James standing in the DIG office
Florida Bar Foundation Fellow James and Matt
Lucas at Venture Cafe presenting with Debbie and Matt
Lucas at Venture Cafe speaking with Debbie and Matt
Debbie and Matt with the CIL staff at the corporate run
Debbie and Matt with the CIL of South Florida Team
DIG staff at corporate run event standing in front of the water.
DIG Team for the Corporate Run in Miami
Simon holding a bag at supper social club.
Simon, one of our Supper Social Club Winners
Alexander holding up his bag at supper social club.
Alexander, one of our Supper Social Club Winners
Miami Inclusion Alliance
We are about to enter hurricane season and addressing domestic violence should be part of every community’s recovery plan.
Researchers at the University of Missouri have identified a framework that can help victims of domestic violence before, during and after disaster events. (Disaster and Community Crisis Center (DCC) at MU) Their research has shown that when disasters like a hurricane, strike a community, they do not affect all community members equally, and victims of domestic violence are often particularly vulnerable. They have identified a framework that can help victims of domestic violence before, during and after disaster events.

"Disasters can cause significant emotional trauma or stress, injure or kill individuals, and threaten basic human needs such as access to food, water and housing," J. Brian Houston, associate professor of communication and director for the Disaster and Community Crisis Center (DCC) at MU. "We know from past research that disasters can increase the prevalence and severity of domestic violence; they have compounding effects on the recovery of women and families experiencing this violence."
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Justine will be back soon.
Intern Christina sitting on the floor with the dogs Lucy and Murphee
Interning at DIG
By: Christina Loisel
As a last semester senior at the University of Miami I knew I had to be placed at a practicum site for 120+ hours of work to be able to graduate in May. While on the search for a site, I was very intrigued by Disability Independence Group, Inc. It stood out to me for many reasons, but largely because it worked with people who have disabilities in the form of advocacy AND litigation. What also has stood out to me while reflecting on my experience was how well-organized DIG is, the dogs in the office, and how much I loved working as an intern here. 

Everyone always says that first impressions are important, well that was very true in this case and has stuck with me till today. From the very first moment I spoke with someone at DIG, I knew this place was different than most non-profit organizations. For example, I sent an e-mail to ask if they were willing and able to let me come in and do my practicum with them and within an hour, I got a phone call to schedule an in-person interview. This punctuality and professionalism were not just a one-time miracle, time and time again I see how punctual, attentive to even the smallest of details, professionalism to all and well-organized Disability Independence Group is.
While the people at DIG are beyond some of the nicest, most caring and warm people I have ever met, the dogs have made a huge impact on me. On the phone the first time I spoke to someone at DIG they asked me if I liked dogs and I responded with “I absolutely love dogs!”. While riding up the elevator on the day of my interview, I pushed the button for the second floor and as it started moving, I heard a loud bark. This made me jump and then I realized it was probably one of the dogs. Looking back at this first memory of coming to the office makes me laugh now because there are times that I will be in the office and someone is visiting and in the quiet office a loud bark can make you jump a little in your seat. With that being said, I was never nervous or afraid of the dogs. I immediately bonded with both of them, and then later on with the third one I had not been able to meet, through treats and belly rubs, and they constantly made my days better and helped me to de-stress.
Working at Disability Independence Group has been one of the most insightful and memorable experiences I could have ever asked for in my undergraduate career at the University of Miami. When people ask me about my practicum, I tell them I can talk for hours about it because I love it so much. From the wonderful people that work at DIG, to learning more about time management, working in a hectic non-profit organization, how grants work, and so forth, it is with great pleasure that I have been able to have this opportunity to work in this wonderful non-profit organization. 
Kids Crusaders
Kids Crusaders Logo
Julie will be back soon.
Lucille's Wall
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
Ask Before You Pet Please

Imagine you are walking your pup happily down the street minding your own business. You are enjoying the scenery and the exercise together. Then, BAM!!! Some random stranger comes snatching yours pup from the ground and starts playing with your pup like they own them.

Now take this same scenario above but instead of a pup, replace it with a toddler or even an infant in a stroller. Now imagine a stranger who you have never met just swiftly picking up your child without any mind to ask and start playing with like they know them.

Most people would probably freak-out if some stranger was to pick up their kid. That’s probably an understatement. Now a days many parents have pups instead of kids and they treat these pups like their kids. With that said I personally do not enjoy someone trying to randomly call out to my dog or pet him when he is working with me. Be it on a walk on leash or having drinks at an outside dog friendly restaurant, that pup is no different than a child.
The Wallet Card Project
the wallet card words in a diamond shape blue figure
The wallet card is a tool to be used by a teenager or an adult with a disability. Currently, we have developed cards for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities.
students sitting on steps at front of the school with the police officer.
Thank you for the Wallet Cards. We like how the colors tell our mood. It's nice to have the cards to explain our disabilities in emergency situations. It really made us think about ourselves. The cards will be very helpful as we become more independent. 
Thank you

The Students in Mrs DiCrosta's Independent Living Class with Sargent Gomes.
Wheels & Heels
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.
Lorinda will be back soon.
black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
We are having a raffle this month.

Everyone that attends will be entered into the raffle.

Raffle prizes.
flyer with dates for supper social for jan through jun flyer is red and black with yellow background and red polka dots
Supper Social Club - June 2019
California Pizza Kitchen, 300 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

06/03/19 6:30pm - 06/03/19 8:30pm

I'll be there!
I can't make it
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
WIPA program and SSA Beneficiaries with Psychiatric Disabilities

A large portion of beneficiaries who could potentially receive WIPA services are individuals with mental health diagnoses. There is a high rate of unemployment/underemployment of this population.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) both provide needed financial assistance to many people in the United States who have mental health conditions. The two programs are run by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides monthly income to individuals who are limited in their ability to work because of a physical or mental disability. Currently almost nine million individuals receive SSDI, and as of 2013, 35.2% of recipients qualify for disability based on a mental health condition.  85% of people with Mental Illness want to work but are afraid to lose their disability status and healthcare
ATV Florida!
Find us at Family Cafe
June 7, 2019, at 3pm
Room: Celebration 13

Join one of our three new standing committees
  1. Communication. Chair: Jay Hahr
  2. Planning. Chair: Sandra Newsom
  3. Organizational. Chair: Christinne Rudd
Educational Information
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
educational support flyer that lists prices for consultations school meetings and legal representation
Your Upward Journey
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

It is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).