Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Volume #7
July 2017

Table of Contents

Debbie, Matt, and Max standing with the coca cola bear with their hands up like a bear claw.
A note from Matt.....

July 26 th marks the twenty-seventh anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act.  Almost three decades after this mandate was enacted to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, persons with disabilities continue to fight against stigmatization and stereotypes and  for the basic components of inclusion into the community, from housing, healthcare and police interactions.  In Florida, the fight has even turned to the fight to the chance to file a case in court.
DIG in the news
June 27, 2017, Law.com, Mental Illness Becomes Major Issue in Legal Community, http://www.law.com/sites/almstaff/2017/06/27/mental-illness-becomes-major-issue-in-legal-community/
July 18, 2017, Local 10 News, Miami police train on how to safely interact with those with disabilities, https://www.local10.com/community/miami-police-train-on-how-to-safely-interact-with-those-with-disabilities

Out and About with DIG
Project SEARCH
Pocono Manor, PA
DCF Conference
Orlando, FL
FL Recreation & Parks Association
Orlando, FL
Elder Concert
Give Miami Day 2017
Online Event

Summer interns standing with Matt in the office with the 2 office dogs.
Summer Interns Goodbye lunch with Sam, Tyler M. and Tyler W and Matt, Sharon, Lisa, and Lucy 

DIG conference room with the staff and lucy the dog taking a picture.
Birthday celebration for Nia and her 21st birthday 

Oliver, Susan, and the bakers standing in front of a display of their homemade cookies.
Oliver and his new company, Oliver's Cakes and Catering

Group picture of FILC members at the Jacksonville meeting.
FILC Meeting in Jacksonville, FL.

Head shot of Larry McDowell smiling
Law with Teeth
By: Matthew W. Dietz

When Larry McDowell went to Affordable Dentures in West Palm Beach, Florida, to have a dental procedure on March 17th, there was no reason that he could possibly believe that he wouldn't be able to get the same services as anybody else. But once Mr. McDowell reached the front desk, he was directed to follow someone to the examination room. Mr. McDowell then said, "I'm blind, could you help to where I'm going?" The employee at the desk said nothing. Once a member of the office staff arrived, Mr. McDowell asked for assistance to the examination room - Mr. McDowell asked to hold her elbow.
She said, "No. We can't help you unless you have someone to help you. We can't treat you unless you bring someone to assist you." Mr. McDowell then asked to speak to the dentist. When Mr. McDowell asked where the dentist was, the employee replied that he was in surgery and would be there for the next two hours. A patient who was watching the interaction told Mr. McDowell, "No he's not. He's standing right there." After the patient's remark, the employee said to Mr. McDowell, "The dentist doesn't want to speak to you today."

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Arnaldo Rios Files his Lawsuit
By: Matthew W. Dietz

Arnaldo Rios-Soto is the 27 year old Autistic Man who was involved in the North Miami shooting on July 18, 2016. Arnaldo was sitting in the middle of the street by his group home with his favorite toy truck, rocking back and forth. His hand movements and rocking behavior was self- soothing behavior that is not unusual for an Autistic person. His behavioral technologist, Charles Kinsey, was trying to get him to go back to the home. Eighty-five seconds after it was announced on the police radio that Mr. Rios-Soto had a toy, Officer Jonathan Aledda aimed his rifle at Arnaldo Rios-Soto, and shot Charles Kinsey. Like everyone, Arnaldo's family saw the video of Charles Kinsey lying on the street with his arms raised attempting to protect Arnaldo. Until last week, it was believed that Arnaldo was held in a police car for over three hours, until he was returned to the group home. 

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Saving for a Better life Experience with ABLE United
By: Emily Read

After years of advocating, negotiating and compromising, one of the most important pieces of legislation for the disability community was passed. The Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows for the creation of savings and investment accounts for people with disabilities without negatively impacting federal benefits. Florida is among the first states to implement the law, which created the ABLE United program.
Now that this legislation is enacted, individuals can save up to $14,000 annually, tax-free, for qualified disability expenses. Funds in an ABLE United account can be used for items such as assistive technology, housing, education, employment training and more. With seven investment options, the account holder has a choice in how their money works for them.

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Florida's not so happy anniversary present to the ADA
By: Matthew W. Dietz

On the same month as the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a Florida law came into effect that shields businesses from liability in ADA lawsuits. Section 553.5141, Florida Statutes, permits certification of a public accommodation as compliant with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act if an expert designs a Remediation Plan that requires all issues to be resolved within ten years. Rather than attempting to encourage compliance with the Americans with Disabilities twenty-seven years after the enactment of the law, the Florida legislature attempts to dilute the law.
This new Florida law demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act: It confuses basic concepts of States' rights in the court system and subjects experts to negligence actions.
In this article, I will discuss this new law, why it will not work as intended, and whether business owners should actually create a comprehensive Remediation Plan and how that should be done.

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Needy Meds: Healthcare cost-savings program
By: Lesly Lopez

NeedyMeds, celebrating its 20
th  anniversary, was founded in 1997 by a retired family physician Dr. Richad Sagall who is the current Present. Realizing there was a need for a centralized information on healthcare cost-savings programs and with the Internet becoming an important resource, he decided a website was the perfect medium. As a national nonprofit, NeedyMeds remains dedicated to educating and empowering those seeking affordable healthcare. NeedyMeds achieves this mission by connecting patients to healthcare programs, offering direct assistance and facilitating programs. Since its inception NeedyMeds has grown considerably. The website has become the premier source of information on all types of programs that assists those who can't afford their medications or health care costs. With more than 20,000 points of costs savings, one of the most popular and effective ways NeedyMeds can help patients is still with their 
Drug Discount Card  which can save users up to 80% off the cost of prescriptions, OTC medications and pet prescriptions purchased from a pharmacy. NeedyMeds home page receives over 16,000 unique visitors per workday and assists approximately 6,000 through their toll free helpline monthly. All of the services NeedyMeds provides are anonymous and free so be sure to visit their  website  or give their expert counselors a  call !
For more information about Patient Assistance Programs to help to pay for medications check our website. http://www.needymeds.org/

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Senior Medicare Patrol Program
By: Lesly Lopez

Senior Medicare Patrol Program
The SMP program's mission is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling and education. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) estimates that Medicare loses billions of dollars each year due to errors, fraud and abuse. SMP actively works to disseminate fraud prevention information through the media, outreach campaigns, community events and by working with Medicare beneficiaries.
For more information please check our website www.stopmedicarefraud.org
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kids Kids Crusaders Corner
By: Julie Fioravanti

Hi friends, I am so sorry for the lengthy time I've been away from Kids Crusaders Corner. 
Last July, Nick was diagnosed with Stage 3 metastatic Testicular Cancer. We started aggressive treatments of chemotherapy in August and had many hospitalizations and complications. He finished his chemotherapy in October of 2016, and in December his scans were still showing a residual tumor. We asked the doctors if it was safe for him to travel as we needed a break away from treatments and hospitals and the dreaded "C" word. 
Once cleared, we booked a 10 day cruise which took us to Haiti, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba! We had an amazing time and upon returning Nick had repeat CT scans which showed that the tumor was no longer detectable!! 
There is so much about this journey that I will be sharing in the months ahead. Trying to juggle daily obstacles with a disability is challenging but adding in a major diagnosis such as Cancer on top of everything else seemed impossible. 
Nick fought hard and while his cancer is in remission and he is on surveillance mode, we are struggling with a lot of side effects from the chemotherapy. For anyone that wants to follow Nicks Journey since last July, I've set up a FB page and here is the link. https://m.facebook.com/FioravantiStrong/

Nick on the beach facing the ocean.
nick smiling wearing dark sunglasses with a tiki cup next to him.
picture of a cruise ship next to the dock in the ocean.
picture of crashing waves on rocks in the Caribbean.

Julie and Nick and the family in front of the Christmas tree.

purple ribbon for Domestic Violence month with the words love shouldn't hurt written on it
MiA Miami Inclusion Alliance
By: Sharon Langer 

Since it is summer and so many folks are traveling, including persons with disabilities, I thought I would share with you a copy of an article from Rainn.org.* that shares helpful tips for staying safe from violence especially sexual assault while traveling.

Rainn suggests that it's important to think about safety as part of your travel preparations. The following tips can help travelers plan for a safe and comfortable trip and may reduce the risk of many different types of crimes, including sexual violence.

Before you go

When you get there

In an emergency abroad

* RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es).

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org.
head shot of Lisa standing in front of legal books.
Here at DIG we have been busier than ever. While being busy is definitely a good thing we also need time to unwind and relax. Cut to powdered sand, crystal clear water and the sounds of waves crashing.
the calm ocean with white clouds in the background a yellow sand in the front.
This month my parents, sister and I are making our annual trek to the beach. Funny, right? - Living so close to a beautiful beach but traveling to another beach or the fact that I have accepted that I'm never going to be too old for a family vacation. Let's go with both.
I am excited to relax, rejuvenate and soak up some UV-rays (my dermatologist won't be pleased) and come back to DIG to begin my third year here! 

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The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
Social Security Disability Insurance or Title II, Disability Benefits SSDI: pays benefits to people with disabilities and certain members of your family if the beneficiary is "insured," meaning that he/she worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
Supplemental Security Income SSI or Title XVI pays benefits to people with disabilities based on financial need.

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justine The View From Here

I've been reading Sheryl Sandberg's new book,
Option B. In it, she writes about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy. Sandberg writes, "You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up; draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are, and you just might become the very best version of yourself."
So much of my focus during this past year has been on rebuilding myself physically. Working on my strength, rebuilding muscles and, of course, the all-important gait training to walk again. After a long stay in the hospital and several surgeries, my unused muscles began to atrophy, wasting away while I was not active. Since I've been home and recovering, I've learned that if I want to get stronger, I have to work to regain my strength and build these muscles back up every day. Yes, every day. Even the days that I don't feel well (which there are many!), or I don't really feel like it, or I just have a hard time moving around, I attempt to do some form of exercise to stay focused on my goals and regain the strength I once had. This focus has taught me an unexpected lesson in resilience.

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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.
On July 18, 2017, DIG hosted a Wallet CardTM Project training at the Sandra De Lucca Development Center with Commander Castellanos and four officers from the City of Miami Police Department. Thirty students from Camp Shriver practiced using their new Wallet Cards in different scenarios that will help them communicate with the police in a real-world environment. Sanela Sabovic, from Channel 10 News, and City of Miami TV came to observe the training.
5 picture collage from the wallet card training with camp shriver students and the City of Miami Police Dept.

5 picture collage from police training with HOPE for Miami students and the Miami-Dade County Police Department.

Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.

Lorinda will be back next month.
flag banner with the letters summer spelled out hanging on a black string with the background of the sky behind it.
Summer Vacation Recommendations
By: Claudia Romero

Summer vacation is the perfect time to go on trips with the family. Planning is usually arduous, but for families with at least one person with a disability, it's a bit harder to find a place that is all-inclusive. To ease a bit of the struggle I took it upon myself to research different places to go to on trips that are fun for the whole family. First and foremost, for the family who likes excitement; Dollywood. Dollywood is a theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee founded by the Country Legend herself, Dolly Parton. Dollywood is wheelchair accessible and allows service animals in the park as long as they're on a leash or harness. With a wide variety of rides and plenty of entertainment, Dollywood is sure to be fun for all! For the family whose thirst for adventure can only be quenched by the great outdoors; Shared Adventures. Shared Adventures is a camp located in Santa Cruz, California that was founded specifically to give those with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the Great Outdoors. With the motto "Adventure is for everyone," Shared Adventures gives itself a standard to live up to, and it does! This camp offers various that help enjoy the outdoors to the fullest; these activities include gardening, archery, kayaking, bowling, arts and crafts, and more! The camp also allows service animals and is wheelchair accessible. Last but not least, for the family that likes to relax and see new places; Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Royal Caribbean has proven itself to be very accessible. Braille is incorporated on every sign, ASL interpreters are available upon request, and as with the two previous locales, service animals are welcome and the ships are wheelchair accessible. Royal Caribbean has ports around the world and is sure to inspire an appreciation of different cultures both on and off the boats. Summer vacations are meant to be enjoyed by all, and thanks to these companies, they can be. I sincerely hope this helps someone out there and may the rest of your summer be enjoyable.
neon sign that says Law Vegas with palm trees behind it.
My trip to Las Vegas
By: Jansil Hueso-Newson

A month ago,I went to Las Vegas with my family to celebrate my high school graduation. It was an amazing experience! There are so many shows to see,lots of food to eat, and countless numbers of attractions in the different hotels.
Cirque Du Soleil is really popular over there.Isaw Michael Jackson One and a water show called Le Reve.The last show I saw was Jennifer Lopez in concert.Out of all three, the Michael Jackson tribute was my favorite.At the show,all of my favorite songs by him were played,the acrobats did great tricks,and there were really cool special effects.The J.Lo show was awesome too !All of her hit songs were played and I kept dancing in my seat.It was very sweet how she dedicated th esong "I Hope You Dance" to her tw okids.Le Reve was gorgeous to watch.There were more acrobats and the water danced to the music that was playing.

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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