Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Volume #12
December 2017

Table of Contents

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A note from Matt.....

"You don't have to blend in and be like everyone else. When, in fact, if you do so, it does a disservice to the community and the world." - Rebecca Cokley, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress on CNN Stories Worth Watching
Happy Holidays,  Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men.  Thrive on learning something new about someone who is different from you, and revel in the differences.    Attend a festival or holiday celebration with which you are not familiar, and understand the culture and humanity of others.  Hopefully, 2018 will be the year in which we break bread with our neighbors and build bridges. 

rudFeature Article: 
Fake Interpreters in Florida
Interpreter Hands

Just two months later, as a serial murderer roamed the streets of Tampa, the police chief held a press conference to announce the arrest of a suspect, and the interpreter waved her arms and signed:

"Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22... murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old ... murder four five 55,000 plead 10 arrest murder bush... three age 24."

Fake sign language interpreters were once seen as an issue isolated to schizophrenic impostors like Thamsanqa Jantjie, who appeared at Nelson Mandela's memorial service and waved his hands at hallucinations of angels descending into the packed stadium.

Florida has the nation's third largest population of people with hearing difficulties at 210,779-roughly 1.8 percent of Florida's population, according to the 2014 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.  However, unlike the majority of states, Florida does not have a process for licensing or certifying qualified interpreters. 

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an interpreter is qualified when he or she can "interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary."  The goal of interpretation is so the person who is Deaf has an equal opportunity for understanding as a person who can hear.  Using an unqualified interpreter is not only dangerous for a Deaf person, or for the Deaf community, the practice is insulting and discriminatory.  This discrimination is called " audism. "

In Miami, English-only speakers may be frustrated or insulted when others speak Spanish in front of them.  The frustration or insult is derived from a perceived conscious decision that is made to hide information. Similarly, when a no one bothers to obtain an interpreter for an event or service, a Deaf person believes that the hearing person does not feel they are even worthy enough to receive the same information.  If an interpreter is not present to communicate critical information, the underlying statement is that the lives of the Deaf community are unimportant.  That is why it is discrimination.

              Most times, entities do not do their due diligence when requesting a sign language interpreter, so persons who know some signs, took one class in sign language, or are otherwise unqualified, pass themselves off as professionals. Since Florida has no licensing or regulatory requirements for sign language interpreters, even when an entity does its due diligence, many unqualified people will continue to pass themselves off as interpreters.  When it comes to emergency situations like hurricanes or mass murderers on the street, poor-quality interpreting is embarrassing and dangerous.  In a doctor's office, it will lead to malpractice, and with police-a vio lation of constitutional rights.

Many people in our community consider themselves culturally Deaf, which means that they share an inherited primary language, American Sign Language (ASL), raise their children using ASL, and socialize with others in the Deaf community.  The United Nations, in the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has recognized the linguistic identity of the Deaf community and encouraged the facilitation of learning sign languages.  However, as with English, the understanding of ASL is not perfect with all Deaf persons and depends on many different factors such as previous educational opportunities.  Furthermore, persons who are Deaf-Blind may need a tactile interpreter. We also need to recognize that ASL is not a word-for-word interpretation of English, and it has its own grammatical construct and uses facial expressions and body language in addition to signs. 

Professionally trained interpreters are able to effectively convey information keeping in mind the Deaf client's ASL proficiency.  Some interpreters also have advanced certifications to interpret in legal or medical environments, which require a deeper understanding of the terminology.  In other circumstances, especially in South Florida where there are a large number of persons that speak different sign languages, a certified deaf interpreter (CDI), is a deaf individual certified to interpret as part of a team with a qualified interpreter to ensure effective communication by breaking down the information even further.

I make sure that every interpreter I use is certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID.org) or is vetted by a trusted and experienced interpreting agency. While providing a certified interpreter is not required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the best guarantee for basic qualifications. As an added benefit, certified interpreters must adhere to a code of ethics that ensures best practices to ensure effective communication. 

Variations of a sign language interpreter licensing bill have failed to get on Florida's legislative agenda after four separate attempts in the past 12 years.  Obtaining a qualified interpreter should not be a game of chance, placing the lives of the members of the Deaf community at risk. This must stop, and Florida must license and regulate sign language interpreters. 
Out and About with DIG
Feb 2018
Supper Social Club
California Pizza Kitchen
Mar 2018 Supper Social Club California Pizza Kitchen
3/12/17 FIU Embrace - Employment Conference Miami, FL

pictures Pictures
Lisa smiling and bending over a chocolate birthday cake with red, yellow, and pink roses made out of frosting.
Happy Birthday Lisa.
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The DIG team supporting the Animal Law Section of the FL Bar
Luisa sitting at the Supper Social Dinner at John Martin's Restaurant
Supper Social Club
Lynnette and her son at the Supper Social Dinner at John Martin's
Supper Social Club
Sharon, Lester, and another guest sitting at a table at the supper social dinner at John Martin's.
Supper Social Club

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kids Kids Crusaders Corner
By: Julie Fioravanti 

Julie will be back soon with another article.  Happy New Year!
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MiA Miami Inclusion Alliance
By: Sharon Langer 

We know from decades of social scientific research and the FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) that report  rates for sexual assault  are among the lowest for violent crimes. At the same time, attrition rates for sexual assault are high. Research indicates that only 5 % to 20% of sexual assaults are reported. 0.4% to 5.4% are prosecuted and 0.2% to 5.2% result in a conviction of any kind. (Lonsway, KA & Archambault 2012)

In reality, sexual assault perpetrators are not typically held accountable within our justice system. Why is this?  There are several possible explanations. These case are often "he says, she says", the beyond any reasonable doubt standard is a very high burden and most controversial, the possibility that there exists an implicit gender bias. This bias is automatic and unconscious and therefore hard to prove. If the bias exists it could explain why, the above described lack of accountability, exists.
This is a very hot topic right now and this is a perfect time to explore bias and its effect on this important societal problem. I will be digging deeper next month. I would love your thoughts. Please email me at sharon@justdigit.org
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org.
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Help our friends affected by the fire in SoCa
As we approach the end of 2017, I wanted to wish everyone a happy new year. I have had a wonderful year in Miami and at DIG. Unfortunately, others have not been so fortunate. For this month's article, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to some of our readers to provide help to our friends affected by the fires in Southern California.
As I am sure you know by now, there are wildfires tearing through Southern California have burned up 175,000 acres and counting. A reported 90,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. These fires affect not only people, their homes, property and businesses but also my brothers and sisters.
Please share whatever useful information you have on our Facebook page.  I am sure some of our readers our in Southern California or know someone there that could use some help. Specifically, I would love to be able to provide information on a shelter that accepts my brothers and sisters and their companions.   Having to be separate is even more stressful in an already stressful situation. In times of need we all need to stick together!!!! Thank you for your help!
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What is Substantial gainful Activity or SGA according to The Social Security Administration? 

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person's disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Both SGA amounts generally change with changes in the national average wage index.

Substantial Gainful amounts for 2018 are:
For statutorily blind individuals for 2018 is $1,970.
For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2018 is $1,180.   

What is Substantial Gainful Activity anyway?

Social Security Definition of Disability : To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):
That is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

We use the term "substantial gainful activity" to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is "substantial" if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA. "Gainful" work activity is:

Work performed for pay or profit; or Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we use SGA to decide if your eligibility for benefits continues after you return to work and complete 
your Trial Work Period 

-Substantial Gainful Activity (Social Security Administration) https://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/sg a.html

-Social Security Administration. 2017 Red Book: How we define disability? 2017 edition.
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justine The View From Here
By: Justine Chichester

Justine will be back next month. Happy New Year.
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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.
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Lorinda will be back next month. Happy New Year.
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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 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
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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.
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Disability Independence Group | 305-669-2822 | info@justdigit.org