Volume 05 | May 2018
Your monthly news & updates
A note from Matt....
The question for all persons who focus on wellness is how to maintain mental, spiritual, and physical balance when being besieged by crisis (both real and perceived) from all sides. In this issue, I give my answer – Lucy. To quote my favorite industrialist,

Willie Wonka, – “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
lucy the dog standing on the Dade County Courthouse sign
No ultrasound, no lease? Women loses apartment for not providing a photo
On April 3, 2018, Disability Independence Group filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of both the Fair Housing Act and the Broward County code against the 320-unit Sorrento, the 300-unit Monterra complex in Cooper City and their management company, Orlando-based ZRS Management LLC.  

Tiesha Davis’ lease wouldn’t be renewed, and an assistant property manager told her over the phone that she should have told management she was pregnant when she applied to rent there — and should have provided an ultrasound and a doctor’s note.

scales of justice
Office Animals for Wellness
For the past year, The Florida Bar has attempted to place focus on the mental health and wellness needs of lawyers in the profession.  In my practice and in my office, the incorporation of animals in our office transforms the environment of our workplace to a less sterile, and more human, environment.  The goal of wellness is to increase one’s physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.  This is distinguishable from mental illness, such as depression, which is a chronic disability that does not depend on day to day stressors. 

More and more employers allow animals in their workplace and have found success. For example, Amazon has approximately 6,000 dogs that work in its Seattle Headquarters.  According to Amazon , the presence of pets in the workplace lower stress, boost morale, and contributes to the company’s culture of collaboration.  In our office, our dogs, Lucy and Murphee, provide a break in our normally stressful days. Lucy demands treats, walks, and an occasional tug-o-war. Also, it’s perfectly ok to give the dogs a hug or a belly scratch. For our clients, it humanizes a situation that is usually intimidating. Nothing like a lick to lighten up a scary place.

At the Annual Convention of the Florida Bar in Orlando on June 14 th and June 15 th , the Animal Law Section and Osceola County Animal Services is having a puppy pit room where people can take a break and play with their dogs, get a lick (or two), and put stressors into perspective.  If you fall in love, you can bring one home, and have your very own litigation support dog too!
If you already have an animal who assist you with balance and wellness, post a video, tag it with #WellLawyer or #wellness, and send it to me!

See you on June 14 th and 15 th in Orlando.

a kitten and a dog in yoga positions.
Out and About with DIG

Florida Deaf Art Show
June 2, 2018
Miami, FL

Supper Social Club
June 4, 2018
Miami, FL

Family Cafe
June 15-17, 2018
Orlando, FL

National Disability Voter Registration Week
July 16-20, 2018

Supper Social Club
August 6, 2018

August 23-25, 2018
San Antonio, TX

supper social club flyer with different colored boxes listing all of the information.
Supper Social Club
Flyer for the Florida deaf art show on june 2nd
FL Deaf Art Show
Matt with two of our summer interns Kelly and Tessa.  They are all wearing  red noses.
Summer interns Kelly and Tessa with Matt at a Families Can! presentation
Debbie training students at Marino Campus in Ft. Lauderdale.
Debbie with students from Marino Campus in Ft. Lauderdale
Debbie sitting on the floor with Lucy next to her. Debbie is holding two boxes of cookies from Courtney's Cookies.
Debbie and Lucy with cookies from Courtney's Cookies
Welcome FL Bar Foundation Fellow Kelly Hawk
Kids Crusaders Corner
Julie will be back soon.
Kids Crusaders Logo
Miami Inclusion Alliance
There is a lot of discussion these days about voting rights and getting everyone registered to vote. There is also much conversation about privacy rights, use of our personal information and concern about out private information being available to those who might want to harm us. This got me thinking about victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Is their addresses available as part of their registration to vote? The answer is yes, BUT…Florida has an Address Confidentiality Program that can help. I did not know this program existed until I researched it and hope that we can begin to get the word out to victims/survivors that it can protect them. This is how it works.

The Office of the Attorney General administers the Address Confidentiality Program (Florida Statute 741.401-741.409). This program was established by the Florida Legislature in recognition that individuals attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence frequently establish new addresses for their protection. In 2010, the Legislature expanded the program to include stalking victims. The purpose of this statute is to enable state and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without disclosing the location of a victim of domestic violence or stalking.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at sharon@justdigit.org
Lucille's Wall
By: Lucy
The U.S. Department of Transportation said this month that it wants public comment on possible alterations to service animal regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act. But before going into that, I thought I’d share a funny story I heard from Lisa Goodman recently about an emotional support cat on an airplane.

I’m sure some of you remember Lisa Goodman but for those who do not, Lisa is a staff attorney at DIG. Lisa used to write an article each month for DIG’s Newsletter but has noticeably been missing ever since I started contributing. Funny thing about that…

Well, Lisa recently came back from attending her cousin’s law school graduation and she told me about her experience with another passenger’s emotional support animal on the airplane ride home-

The full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be accessed here:
Please feel free to provide your feedback!
Matt sitting at his desk with Lucy the dog.
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Deaf Alice Facebook Page - Issues related to the Deaf Community

Kids Crusaders Facebook Page - Issues related to medically fragile and medically complex children and their families

Animal Partners Facebook Page - Issues related to service animals and emotional support animals
Benefits Information
We will be back next month.
head shot of Lesly
The View from Here
“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” – Marc Jacobs

I have this yellow dress hanging in my closet. I bought it in September 2014 to wear to a function I was going to be attending with my husband a few weeks later. To make a very long story short, I fell, went to the hospital, had three surgeries and was ultimately labeled a paraplegic. Needless to say, I never got to wear the dress, and I never made it to the function.

I didn’t go into my closet for well over a year after I came home from the hospital. Part of it was because my first wheelchair was too big and too clunky to fit through the entry of my “walk-in” closet. But, to be honest, I didn’t go in my closet mainly because the memories of all of my clothes were too painful to face. Each article of clothing, each pair of shoes was a bright and beautiful, albeit painful, reminder of everything I did before my fall. All of the things I used to wear and, I felt at the time, could never wear again. Like pictures in a photo album, the clothes hanging in my closet represented so many memories from the times I took for granted standing on my two feet.

As I wheeled past the closet to go into another room, I would catch a glimpse of certain articles of clothing that would spark a memory. The short, green dress I used to wear to work, or the black heels I used to run up and down the stairs in. And, yes, that yellow dress I bought for that function I never attended. While they were just material things, the clothes in my closet were forcing me to think about my life before my injury. But I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t ready, to tackle all of the memories all together at once.

Head shot of Justine
The Wallet Card Project
The wallet card is a tool for young adults or adults to use when they come into contact with law enforcement; either a a victim, a witness, or as a potential suspect.

The wallet card will help to clarify any interaction with law enforcement so that the behavior of the person with a disability is not misinterpreted as suspicious or as criminal behavior.

The Wallet Card Project is a collaboration with DIG, CGPD, and UM-NSU CARD.
Wheels & Heels
Lorinda will be back next month.
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.
Education Information
Brown v. Board of Education (Brown) was decided on May 17, 1954, by a unanimous Supreme Court decision. Now, 64 years later, I cannot imagine the Supreme Court reaching the same conclusion with a unanimous decision. The 1954 Supreme Court found that " i n the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." In language as true today as it was in 1954, the Court said,

 "Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made a vailable to all on equal terms.”

Sixty four years later, I am unsure that the intent of the Brown decision was ever fully realized. As school choice and charter schools seem to be taking over the landscape of public education and as the federal government is pushing for the privatization of our public schools, I fear that our educational facilities are more segregated than ever. This is also true for the 6.8 million children with disabilities who attend public schools. Children with disabilities are disproportionately placed into separate classrooms and separate schools. Integration is nonexistent for many students with disabilities and these numbers are even higher for students of color. 

head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
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Follow us on Twitter @dislaw
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Follow us on Twitter @justdigit
Shop Amazon Smile
When you shop Amazon Smile, you can support our organization.
Supper Social Club
Join us for dinner and conversation at California Pizza Kitchen in Coral Gables.

June 4, 2018

August 6, 2018
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Dragonfly Training
Watch out for our new training program called Dragonfly.

Coming Soon.
the word dragonfly and the to the right an image of a dragonfly.  the entire image is green.
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Follow us on Instagram
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Follow us on Instagram DisabilityIndependenceGroup
Your Upward Journey
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 a mugs, journals, etc.

Disability Independence Group | Phone: 305-669-2822 | Fax: 304-441-4181