Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Volume #4
April 2017

Table of Contents

Matt and Debbie sitting on a trolley car in New Orleans.
A note from Matt.....
Happy Fair Housing Month. 
Approximately 54 million people in the United States have a disability.
  • In 2016, there  were a total of 15,455 cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities reported, which amounts to 54.84 percent of ALL reported Fair Housing cases in the United States.
  • In 2016, there were a total of 28,073 charges of employment discrimination on the basis of disability, which amounts to 30.7 percent of ALL reported employment cases filed with the EEOC in the United States.
  • In 2015, only 34.9 percent of persons with disabilities were employed, as compared to 76 percent rate of persons without disabilities, further, 35% of such persons received social security income based on disability.  The remaining 30.1 percent do not receive any federally subsidized social security income
The lack of services and resources in neighborhoods with predominant racial and ethnic minorities further exacerbate the disparity where there is an intersectionality of those who are members of other minority groups and live with a disability.  More incidents of disability discrimination occur when there persons have a disability and belong to another minority group; however, adequate statistics are not maintained to determine the extent of this disparity, other than in the criminal justice system.  However, it should be a basic fact that poorer neighborhoods do not include adequate services to ensure accessibility, transportation, health care and other services to ensure inclusive participation of those persons with disabilities in community life.
DIG in the news
Out and About with DIG
2017 Florida Guardian Ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference
Orlando, FL
Florida's Children First 2017 Miami-Dade Child Advocacy Awards & Reception
Miami, FL
May 2017
Connect Miami
Miami, FL
Disability employment policies and ADA compliance for Best Buddies
Miami, FL
Family Cafe
Orlando, FL
FL Bar Conference
Boca Raton, FL
FL Recreation & Parks Association
Orlando, FL
Give Miami Day 2017
Online Event

connect miami with a green background.

DIG staff sharing cake and ice-cream.
Thank you Veritext and Pam Stratton for the yummy coconut cake.
Matt and Lisa wearing NAD t-shirts with lucy sitting in a chair.
NAD t-shirts for Matt and Lisa.
DIG staff in conference room with Murphee the dog and Lucy the dog.  Happy Administrative Professionals Day.
Administrative Professionals Day
Matt standing at a podium at a press release.
Matt at a press conference.
Trevor and Lucy working to build new chairs for the office.
Trevor and Lucy building chairs.
scales of justice
Litigation Update: Fired Because of Cancer

In August 2015, DIG represented Gregorio Reyes in a case where he claimed that he was terminated because he had cancer. This month, IDEX Corporation agred to pay $380,000 to Mr. Reyes and furnish significant relief to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed on his behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Click here to read more
Katy Daniel-Rivera sitting down and smiling
Litigation Update: Katy Daniel-Rivera wins $75,000 jury verdict from Keiser University

On April 19, 2017, a jury of eight people, none of whom were deaf or knew anyone who was deaf, awarded Katy Daniel-Rivera $ 75,000 and found that she was subject to intentional discrimination based on disability because she was not provided the opportunity to enter into Keiser University's Radiologic Technology program.

Click here to read more
Kids Crusaders Logo
kids Kids Crusaders Corner
By: Julie Fioravanti 

Julie will be back in May with a new article.

Happy Birthday Nick! Nick turned 26 years old on April 17.
Nick smiling with a big plate of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream in front of him.

Nick smiling and wearing a donald duck jacket.

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

President Obama is the first U.S. President to declare April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This declaration came in 2009.
Sexual assault prevention is a relatively new field of practice and study, emerging out of the social movements of the late 1960s and 1970s.
In the early "Consciousness Raising" groups of the feminist movement, women started speaking about their experiences, everything from housework to domestic violence to workplace inequities to sexual assault. I used to call them "Tupperware Parties', and I attended many in those years.
The first rape crisis centers were founded as a result of the efforts of these early feminist activists.

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

As we near the end of April, we end sexual
Assault awareness month. Statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center show that while 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime, 1 in 19 men also will be raped at some point during their lifetime.

While it's not a new phenomenon, it is a topic that has apparently become more common, it's  something called "stealthing". I have seen articles this last week all over my Facebook about it and I thought I would take this opportunity to inform you a little about it.

If you're wondering what stealthing is -it involves  individuals who are about to have sex, and agree to do so while using a condom. But during the act, a man decides he'd rather not wear the condom and takes it off - without telling his partner. 

There is a debate whether this act is equivalent to sexual assault and whether the it should be specifically defined as a crime under the law. 

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head shot of Lesly

A large portion of beneficiaries who could potentially receive WIPA services are individuals with mental health diagnoses. There is a high rate of unemployment/underemployment of this population.

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

The last time I drove a car was September 20, 2014. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and yet with everything that's happened over the past couple of years, it seems like a lifetime ago. Of all the things my injury has taken from me, my ability to walk, to stand, to dance; one of the things I miss the most is driving. I miss the days when I could just hop in my car and get to wherever I wanted to go, whenever I wanted to go there.
Now I sit and wait. And I have for a long time. I have to rely on family and friends to get around when I need to go somewhere. As much independence as I am gaining everyday, getting my strength back in physical therapy, and regaining the ability to take a few steps, not being able to drive still leaves me very dependent on others around me.
I was so excited when I heard about the Advanced Driver Rehabilitation program. I thought that because I had lost the use of my right leg, I had lost the ability to drive all together. But I learned this couldn't be further from the truth. Through the use of hand controls, many people living with disabilities drive themselves every single day. Now, I would be one of them. It was like a light bulb went off. I did all of my research and I called to schedule my appointment for an evaluation. I told my family members, friends and anyone who would listen, how excited I was to be taking yet another step towards getting my independence back. I would be driving again.

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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.
Easter Seals training part 2 with City of Miami Parks and the City of Miami Police Department.

Thank you to Nadia Arguelles,
NRO Ray Figueroa and NRO Marvin Cismondi for all of your help. 

NRO Marvin Cismondi working with students at Easter Seals.

Debbie speaking to students at Easter Seals.

NRO Ray Figueroa and NRO Marvin Cismondi speaking to students at Easter Seals.

map of US with colors and numbers in the states that requested wallet cards.  Graph on bottom with same info.
Wallet Card Update - Requests by State

From January 1 st, 2017-April 9 th, 2017, the Wallet Card™ Project received Wallet Card requests from persons with disabilities in many states across the U.S.A. During this time period, the largest number of requests were in Florida. Florida had 52 Wallet Card requests. The smallest number of requests were in the following states: Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Each state had 1 Wallet Card request. There were also Wallet Card requests from persons with disabilities in 20 other states. The Wallet Card™ Project is growing!

graph and chart of wallet card requests by disability.
The Wallet Card™ Project received a total of 161 Wallet Card requests from January 1 st, 2017-April 9 th, 2017. Out of the 161 requests, there were 120 Wallet Cards made. This is because cards are only made if the recipient can speak and is over the age of 14. Out of the 41 cards that were not made, 22 of the requests were from individuals who are under 14 and 14 of the requests were from individuals who are non-verbal. The remainder of the requests were duplicate card requests (2) or a replacement Biodot was needed and/or an incorrect address was provided (3). Also, there are two types of Wallet Cards available based on the recipients disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disability (ID/IDD). Out of the 120 Wallet Cards that were made, 100 were for persons with ASD and 20 were for persons with an ID/IDD.
Polett SCUBA diving under the water upside down.
polettJust. Ten. Seconds.

It is late at night when I suddenly wake up feeling as if my head is being crushed with a repetitive pounding. Someone must also be tap-dancing on my chest as I can barely breathe and each beat of my heart hurts as if it is going to pop out of my chest. I call out to my Mom who is sound asleep in her bed next to mine, she wakes up immediately and turns on the lights... at least I think she does. My headache is so strong that all I see are spots.
It is 1999, and we are living in Florida; however, 11 years prior to this night, I was a carefree child, addicted to the ocean and all of its wonders until my life changed in the most drastic way when I suffered a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) at the cervical level of c4/c5.  While my injury was considered "incomplete", the damage done to the spinal cord was severe enough to paralyze me from my chest down and take sensation away. This happened in Venezuela (a third-world country) so knowledge on SCIs was beyond limited, and even scarcer with injuries as high as mine. Life span/quality prognosis? 13 years at the most? Things to be aware of with this type of injury? Ehh... *shurgs*.

Click here to read more

Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.

Lorinda will be back next month.
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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.

Logo for the fair housing video series.

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

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