Newsletter 2019
A note from Debbie......
logo for the 10 days of connection in a greenish yellow box
DIG will be supporting the 10 Days of Connection again this year from May 1-10, 2019.

The team at Radical Partners has done a terrific job of bringing our community together in unique and different ways.

DIG and The Advocacy Network, as partners in The Enable Project, will be giving a training on how to help make these connections accessible on April 1, 2019. Here is a link to sign up.

The purpose of these connections is to break down silos and engage in acts of connection, to build empathy, to increase understanding, and to refocus on our shared humanity.

Join us, get involved, and help us build a stronger community.
Blind Employee Settles Lawsuit Against Miami-Dade County Public Schools
School System to Make Websites and Software Accessible

Jan standing with her dog in front of a sign for miami senior high school
Janice A. Bartleson, Ph.D., a blind counselor and emotional/behavioral disabilities clinician employed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M‑DCPS) for more than twenty-seven years, has settled the lawsuit she filed against the school board last spring with the support of the National Federation of the Blind . Dr. Bartleson brought the lawsuit because she was unable to use the school system’s websites, web forms, and software applications that were inaccessible to her.  
The Cure for Operation Varsity Blues –
Untimed Testing

clip art of a blue background with a white stop clock
Last week, wealthy parents were charged in a conspiracy to get their children into elite schools by rigging the system.  They obtained fraudulent disability accommodations, paid off standardized-testing officials to doctor test scores, sent smarter students to take tests; or paid proctors on the inside to allow for extra time. 

After the scandal hit, persons with learning disabilities across the country are fearful that their need for accommodations will now be questioned. 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.

winners at the LWV women who shine event standing by the stage
league of women voters poster with lady justice blindfolded and holding a sword
League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade, 5th Annual Women Who Shine Event.
Congratulations to all of my fellow winners:

Honorable Bertila Soto
Marlene Bastien
Avra Jain
Thelma Gibson
DIG in the News
Out & About with DIG

NFB tenBroek Disability Law Symposium
March 28-30, 2019
Baltimore, MD

10 Days of Accessible Connections
April 1, 2019
Miami, FL

DCBA Conference: Diversity in the Practice
April 5, 2019
Miami, FL

Corporate Run
April 25, 2019
Miami, FL

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
Debbie and Sharon standing with Raquel and Ms. Zammas
Best Buddies Event
UM Courage Project members with Debbie Sharon and Lucy at the DIG office
collage of wegman dog pictures made out of tiles in the subway station in NYC
Subway Station with Wegman pictures
supper social dinner in February
Supper Social Club
raffle winner Carolina Puig holding her DIG bag with a starbucks gift card
Raffle Winner at Supper Social Club
Supper Social Club
Debbie and Sarah standing in front of a screen with the powerpoint presentation on planning an accessible event
Training at the CIC for Enable Project
Stephanie Larry and Debbie holding chocolate chip cookies after our lunch and learn event
Lunch and Learn with our Board of Director Larry
Debbie and Susan at the LWV event
Susan and Debbie at LWV Event
Yare at her desk holding birthday balloons and flowers
Happy Birthday Yare
Joan Debbie Camilo Sarah and Leiva at the CIC standing in the hallway
Planning for the 10 Days of Connection
lucy the dog looking at the camera and smiling
Lucy the dog
Miami Inclusion Alliance
Research shows that almost half of those who abuse people with disabilities are in positions of power such as personal care attendants, transportation providers, and health care providers. The organizations responsible for hiring these positions have a critical role to play in preventing abuse and holding their employees accountable when they do abuse, yet gaps and barriers exist that prevent them from doing so. Among them: information on abuse and how to prevent it, is rarely included in employee trainings and when allegations of abuse, including those involving staff, are brought to the attention of the organization, they are often treated as administrative and not criminal issues. Generally, an accused staff member is terminated but no charges are brought and law enforcement is rarely called. Background checks of potential employees are becoming more common; however, a criminal check only reveals convictions, which are rare in cases involving victims with disabilities because these cases rarely reach the criminal justice system.
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Justine will be back next month
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.
Hi, I am so excited to announce that our team has been awarded an innovation grant from The Children's Trust.

This one year grant is especially exciting for me because the title of the project is K9's for Kids. As you might guess, it is a DOG project.

Here is a short summary of the project:

K9’s for Kids will address the critical need to improve the way we help sexually, psychologically and physically abused children, as they must navigate through a complex and complicated system in order to get the help they need. Too many children are re-traumatized as they travel through the current system. There are endless stories of children refusing services, not benefiting from therapy, unable to tell their story to prosecutors and simply unable to speak in court. Children who have suffered trauma are more likely to experience health problems, participate in risky behavior, and have violent relationships or problems making friends. If left untreated, childhood trauma leads to numerous problems in adulthood. The need to bring innovative successful projects to that system is met by this project. Disability independence Group as the anchor partner, the leadership of Kristi House, our Child Advocacy Center, the Department of Children and Families representing of the child welfare system and the Guardian Ad litem Program, representing child advocates have all agreed to come together in a formal public-private partnership to bring the power of the DOG to our system of care.

I can't wait to meet the new team member at Kristi House, I hope I get to attend the partner meetings and teach the new DOG how to greet the clients.

Stay tuned for more information about the project.

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.
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 prize is a $20 gift card to Starbucks.
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 - April 2019
California Pizza Kitchen, 300 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

04/01/19 6:30pm - 04/01/19 8:30pm

I'll be there!
I can't make it
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
How a PASS plan can help you?
A PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) allows you to set aside other income besides your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or resources for a specified period of time so that you may pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate the SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you currently receive.

More information on Plans for Achieving Self Support:
Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute
South Florida WIPA project: 305 453 3491 ask for your local county benefit planner.
REV UP Florida!
Next Telephonic meeting will be in April, stay tuned for the date and time.

Join one of our three new standing
  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.
Florida Legislature is seeking to further expand voucher programs in Florida. This sounds great on the surface. Florida’s voucher programs are touted all over the country as a success story and parents embrace voucher programs as the corner stone of the idea of “parent choice.” But this article is about the falsehoods and failures of the voucher program in Florida. I know there are families who stand by the voucher programs as a “life saver” or as “the only option” when their child was not successful in a public school setting and I do not dispute those experiences. I, as an attorney, have counseled many families to leave the public school system. The public school system is broken. The public school system is not designed to address the individual needs of every student. The public school system is underfunded, the teachers are underpaid and the system prioritizes test scores over learning. Voucher programs are not the answer to solving the problems that exist in the public school system. While a voucher will make sense for some children on an individual level, voucher programs are destroying the public school system on a macro level. Voucher programs are a not so veiled attempt to privatize public education, pulls money and resources out of the public school system and is devastating for students with disabilities.  

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).Text Link