Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Volume #2
February 2017

Table of Contents

Debbie and Matt sitting on the floor with Lucy
A note from Matt.....

Lucy, our legal dog, assists in ensuring that our staff, clients and guests are comfortable and happy, as long as they keep her happy (and fed).  For some, their assistance animal allows them to have a reason to get out of bed and go to school or work.  For children and others in the court system, it lessens the anxiety of testifying about nightmares in their lives.  If anyone would like more information about the use of dogs in offices, please feel free to call us!
DIG in the news
WFSU - Florida Lawmakers Move Forward On Effort To Require Autism Law Enforcement Training,  By Sascha Cordner,  Feb 10, 2017 - http://news.wfsu.org/post/florida-lawmakers-move-forward-effort-require-autism-law-enforcement-training
Miami Herald - Court hears appeal of deaf patients who say Baptist should use interpreters in hospital, By Daniel Chang, January 25, 2017 - http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article128778459.html
Daytona Beach News Journal, Bill aims to end 'drive-by' ADA compliance lawsuits, By Tony Holt, February 19, 2017 - http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20170219/bill-aims-to-end-drive-by-ada-compliance-lawsuits
J.A.A.B Blog, FIX THIS NOW, PETER, by Azim Ramelize, January 20, 2017 - http://www.jaablaw.com/uncategorized/fix-this-now-peter/
Sun Sentinel, Users say ramp into new Broward courthouse too steep, by Brittany Wallman,  January 19, 2017 - http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/broward-politics-blog/fl-courthouse-steep-walkway-20170114-story.html
South Florida Gay News, Seeing in the Dark: Why Posing Your Pet as a Service Animal is Problematic, by Belo Cipriani, February 17, 2017 - http://southfloridagaynews.com/Columns/seeing-in-the-dark-why-posing-your-pet-as-a-service-animal-is-problematic.html
Daily Moth, Baptist Hospital of Miami and Two Deaf Patients sue over the issue of VRI.  (in American Sign Language), Feb 9, 2017 - https://www.facebook.com/TheDailyMoth/videos/635080740027163/?pnref=story
Out and About with DIG
2017 Florida Guardian Ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference
Orlando, FL
ABC's of ESA's
New Orleans, LA
Disability employment policies and ADA compliance for Best Buddies
Miami, FL
June 2017
Family Cafe
Orlando, FL
Give Miami Day 2017
Online Event

Debbie at the Resource Fair at FIU, College of Law

Lester and Sharon celebrating their birthdays at DIG office.
Happy Birthday Sharon and Lester.

DIG staff sitting at a table listening to Susan Stefan speak about mental health issues.
Lunch and Learn with guest speaker Susan Stefan.

DIG team standing with balloons on valentine's day.  Matt is holding lucy the dog.
Valentine's Day at DIG

DIG team dressed in red and pink with balloons for valentine's day
Valentine's Day at DIG

Sharon and Wanda at the Women's March standing in front of a casa valentina banner.
Sharon and Wanda at the Women's March
American Flag with a pair of military dog tags on the flag.
4-F Disabled and Unfit for Military Service
By: Matthew Dietz

Can you be drafted in the military if you have a disability?  
What constitutes a disability that would make you ineligible to be drafted?
As a father of a 19-year-old in a volatile time where a tweetstorm of thoughtless insults can turn into a firestorm of bombs, I worry about the future of my son and all young men of his generation. Currently, the United States Armed Forces is an all-volunteer military force, and there has not been a draft since 1973. However, reactivating the draft is a possibility in the event of a need to supplement the military -- all men between 18 and 25 are potentially subject to military conscription or " the draft ." In the event that Congress and the President authorize a mobilization to increase the number of active troops, a lottery would be held based on birthdays which determines the order of men to be drafted. Those with low lottery numbers receive examination orders and are ordered to report for a physical mental and moral evaluation at a Military Entrance Processing Station ( MEPS ) to determine whether they are fit for military service. Once the person is notified of the results, a registrant will be given ten days to file a claim for exemption.

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Disability Organizations' Opposition to
HR 985
clipart of a bill.

HR 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017
Kids Crusaders Logo
kids Kids Crusaders Corner
By: Julie Fioravanti 
purple ribbon for Domestic Violence month with the words love shouldn't hurt written on it
MiA Miami Inclusion Alliance
By: Sharon Langer 

It is really important that we as a community, support and promote meaningful connections between persons with disabilities and our services and systems. WHY does this connection matter? I believe it matters because if we are to provide a truly meaningful safety net of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, we need a community that is deeply connected and in which each member is valued. A Connected Community is a strong and healthy community. Many times persons with disabilities live in the shadows of their communities and are isolated by barriers like lack of access to transportation and communication. This isolation and lack of connections makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

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If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org.
head shot of Lisa standing in front of legal books.

 After almost 18 years of friendship, my friend, Frankie and I had our first "professional" phone call. I was on the verge of beginning a deposition and he called me. Since he never calls during the day (we both work), I picked up. On the other line was Frankie inquiring about service animals. There was something really cool about that conversation and a sense of accomplishment for both of us.
I make it a priority to integrate my friends into my professional life where I can. My friend Maribel is an event/project manager. When it came to brainstorming and implementing our Wallet Card Fundraiser, I turned to my friend Maribel. It was her suggestion and help that we were able to hold the Wallet Card Fundraiser at Shake Shack.

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Logo for Disability Independence Group, Inc. (DIG).

Kids Crusaders Logo

Animal Partners Logo

head shot of Lesly

Ticket to work and WIPA what that means?
Many working aged individuals with disabilities (ages 18-64) are not working. The reasons vary, but for some it's a fear of "If I start working, will my benefits be taken away from me?" The truth is: No. People with disabilities can work without losing their financial security or health care benefits. There are many programs available that make it possible to still collect benefits while working. Here is a brief overview of a few programs available.

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Head shot of Justine
justine The View From Here
By: Justine Chichester

T here are so many great quotes about friendship. One of my favorites came from the champ himself, Muhammad Ali. He once said, "Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."
When I first came home from the hospital, I was not prepared for how different my life would be. Before my fall, before all of the tests and subsequent surgeries, before the couple of years in and out of the hospital and then in and out of rehab, I led a very active life. I had a background in theater and dance. I sat on the Board of Directors of a charity organization and managed to work full-time. But after one slip, one night in front of my house, all of that completely changed. I spent the next couple of years immersed in my medical issues. That became my life.

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The Wallet Card Logo.  A blue hexagon with the words the wallet card in the hexagon.
wallet The Wallet Card Project
By: Deborah Dietz 

The wallet card is a tool for young adults or adults to use when come into contact with law enforcement; either as 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.

Click here to sign up for a wallet card

The Wallet Card Project is a collaboration with DIG, CGPD, and UM-NSU CARD.
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.

One of the gems in life is building relationships with others. Creating friendships, romantic relationships and connecting with others creates opportunities for us to grow and truly enjoy our surroundings. As a person with a disability, I've had the great opportunity to network with others who are in one way or another tied into the disability community and equally as important relationships with people who have never met anyone with a disability before in their lives. I've found that creating relationships with a diverse group of people has broadened my horizons and brought zest to everyday life.
There are numerous ways to get to know people and create relationships. Whether it's simply smiling at someone at the train station or actively participating in a community event, opportunities to meet new people are endless.

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The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
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 as mugs, journals etc.

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A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing.
A Parcel of Penguins

A PARCEL OF PENGUINS: an Animal Counting Book is a Children's book that teaches unusual names of groups of animals. The book is entertaining and informative for all ages. 
Click here to purchase the book
red box with the word donate in it.
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 Person with Disabilities
Thank you to the organizations that support our projects.
the children's trust logo.  Three children standing next to the words the children's trust

impact fund logo.  red equal sign and then the words impact fund

Disability Independence Group | 305-669-2822 | info@justdigit.org