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Table of Contents

A Note from Matt

DIG in the News

Water Safety

Kids Crusaders Corner

Rotary Club of Harris County

Guardianship Video

The Exceptional Theater Company

Ride de Vuelta

ADA 25th Anniversary

Pet Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Centers

Disability: The Market You're Missing Part II

What Makes Someone Inspirational?

Miami-Dade County Hurricane Preparedness Video in ASL

Out and About with DIG

The Wallet Card presented at the Family Caf?

The Wallet Card Project

Benefits from SSA for People with Disabilities

Legislative Update

Your Upward Journey

Litigation: Fair Housing Reasonable Accommodations

A Parcel of Penguins

Matt sitting on a rock wall with trees behind him. notefrommattA Note from Matt.....


The Olmstead Supreme Court decision is one of the foundation blocks to Disability Independence in the United States.  June 22nd marks the 16th anniversary of the Olmstead decision that ensures that people with disabilities have the right to live in community based settings, and not in institutions.  Every day at DIG, we fight for the right for kids with disabilities to be at home with their families; we fight for the right for persons with disabilities to stay in their homes with accommodations; we fight for the right to have the ability to make medical choices; and we fight for right for persons with disabilities to have the same opportunity to live, love and thrive in our community.  Community integration also involves leisure activities as well, and this month, we are highlighting  sports and entertainment activities.  In addition, our Wallet Card video, to give persons with autism or developmental disabilities a tool to self-identify to first responders to avoid misunderstandings or dangerous situations, has been awarded a Bronze Telly Award at the 36th Annual Telly Awards, and we are proud that our project is making a difference to achieve full community integration. 


For more information about our wallet video, go to


For more information about the Olmstead decision, go to  or


diginnews clip art of a newspaper that is folded   DIG in the News  


May 7, Miami Herald: "Miami students embrace Law Day"

May 22, Daily Business Review: "Mental Illness in the Legal Profession Still An Issue

June 1, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Service dogs allowed to follow students to school? That's two paws up!"

June 1, WSVN: "Judge: Special needs student may continue bringing service dog to class"

June 11, Guardian Ad Litem: "Governor Rick Scott Signs Regis Little Act to Protect Children"

June 21, The Palm Beach Post: "Pregnant deaf woman sues Bethesda for interpreter during delivery"

June 22, Yahoo!: "Why a Deaf Woman Is Suing the Hospital Where She Plans to Give Birth"

June 23, WPTV: "Hearing-impaired pregnant woman sues Bethesda Hospital, wants interpreter"

watersafety Colorful beach balls floating in a pool
Water Safety


Water safety is a nationally relevant issue during summer due to the prevalence of social activities within the pool or beach. Extra caution and awareness are tools that are extremely important to use in order to prevent a tragedy such as drowning. According to a 2014 Red Cross survey, more than half of all Americans (54%) either cannot swim or do not have all the basic swimming skills. Alarming statistics of this kind are essential to understanding potential danger within fun summer activities, and learning water safety tips. (click here to read more)


julie Kids Crusaders Corner Kids Crusaders Logo


Julie will be back next month with another story.  This month we want to say thank you to Adam and Jen.
Meet team Nick, Adam, and Jen.  Adam and Jen ran a race last weekend.  Adam and Jen run for Nick.
To learn more about the organization, I Run 4 Michael please click the link below.


Close up picture of Adam and Jen with their medals after the race. Nick smiling and wearing a Team Nick, Adam, and Jen shirt Adam and Jen with their medals after the race.
rotary A ramp that was built by the Rotary Club of Harris County Georgia this year Rotary Club of Harris County-- Meeting their community's needs

By: Sharon Langer 


The Rotary Club of Harris County Georgia has a 17 year history of service to their community. I was privileged to join them this month at a summer breakfast meeting and hear about a unique project they started for persons with disabilities. I am hoping that by writing about this project other Rotary groups might be encouraged to start their own project. In partnership with a local faith based non-profit called FOCUS, residents who need ramps in order to enter their homes are identified. These folks are unable to afford to put in the ramps and the Rotarians provide not only the materials but actually come to the homes and build the ramps. They are beautiful and functional. Please see the picture of one they built this year. The creed of Rotary is that leaders from all walks of life are united to amplify their individual contributions to make the world a better place to live and work. The Rotary Club of Harris County puts that creed to work. I want to particularly congratulate Tom Cheatham who was the fundraising chair this year for raising over $10,000 towards these endeavors.

scales of justice
 guardvideoGuardianship Video


Recently the Disabilities Independency Group partnered with the Dade County Legal Aid Society and the Statewide GAL Office to present the training "Guardianship and Guardian Advocate Training for Attorneys." The training features a distinguished panel including the Honorable Maria M. Korvick. The presentation includes identifying developmental disabilities, everything you need to know about plenary guardianship and guardian advocates, and how to interview children with disabilities. The training was approved by the Florida Bar for 3.0 Hours of CLE credit. Watch the video on the Florida Statewide GAL Program website.

And then click the link to the video:


If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at
symbol for twitter, a blue square with a white lower case t. Follow us on Twitter: a blue twitter bird in a white square.



Joshua Goldstein and Lauren Barney singing at the Exceptional Theater Company performance The Exceptional Theater Company

By: Rachel Goldstein 


The Exceptional Theater Company ("ETC") is a remarkable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, designed to teach theatre to individuals of all ages with physical and/or intellectual disabilities throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, with over 20 drama classes, and a summer program in Asheville, North Carolina. The ETC drama classes recently presented a wonderful show 'Sound of Musicals'. Here are stars Joshua Goldstein and Lauren Barney on stage during their performance.


For more information on this unique organization and upcoming events, visit




vuelta Ride De Vuelta Logo

Ride de Vuelta - Sports without limitations, we all can do it!!!

By: Mick Jackson


Mick Jackson, founder and former professional snowboarder from California, knows very well the Chilean terrain due to many competitions and visits to the country and created Ride de Vuelta in early 2014 in Santiago, Chile.


Mick's motivation was to provide opportunities for people with disabilities but from an ecological and inclusive approach, which is very important to create and strengthen the links between friends, siblings, peers and family. Ride de Vuelta is where people with and without disabilities can learn a challenging and extreme sport because we are motivators...enabling people to dream! (click here to read more)

Mick, Pili, Anita, and Olmer posing with surfboards on the beach                                           
Teaching snowboard Termas de Chilean with Manuel, Victoria, Caterina and Carolina

logo for the ADA 25 legacy tour ADA 25th Anniversary - The State of the Florida Bar and Courts

By: Matthew Dietz  


And today, America welcomes into the mainstream of life all of our fellow citizens with disabilities. We embrace you for your abilities and for your disabilities, for our similarities and indeed for our differences, for your past courage and your future dreams. Last year, we celebrated a victory of international freedom. Even the strongest person couldn't scale the Berlin Wall to gain the elusive promise of independence that lay just beyond. And so, together we rejoiced when that barrier fell.

...  I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down. God bless you all.   Remarks of President George Bush at the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, July 26, 1990.

President sitting a table signed the ADA into law with four people surrounding him.



Last month, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga signed a proclamation honoring the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act and designated July 2015 as a month of commemoration for the anniversary within Florida's state courts system.(click here to read more)



Two dogs standing side by side in raincoats Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Centers

 By: Monica Sabates

          Hurricane season in Miami-Dade County is a force to be reckoned with. The season's span between June 1st and November 30th leaves a considerable amount of time for a hurricane to strike suddenly and swiftly in one's vicinity. Being mindful and prepared for what may come is the first step to ensuring one's safety and the safety of one's pet or service animal. One option for an individual living in an evacuation area, unsafe structure, or mobile home in Miami-Dade is to pre-register for a Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Center (PFHEC) before a hurricane announces its arrival. (click here to read more)



Customer Shopping with Assistance Disability: The Market You're Missing Part II

By: Rachel Goldstein


          Welcome back for part two of my series addressing some of the most commonly asked questions by businesses. In part two I am going to focus on the most frequently asked question, "What can I do so I do not get sued?" With such a complex question in mind, this article is by no means comprehensive and simply meant to provide a basic understanding of what businesses are obligated to do to ensure people with disabilities are not excluded. (click here to read more)




Silver Knight Logo What Makes Someone Inspirational?

By: Matthew Dietz


Last month, I went to the 2015 Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald Silver Knight Awards, where I saw the most brilliant, civic minded high school seniors in South Florida get recognized for their achievements. Each and every award winner was inspirational and made a change in others' lives. Every winner was announced, a brief description of their accomplishments and what school they attended were read and then they were invited on stage to receive their award and pose for pictures. Many of the students struggled to make it on the stage: they were nervous, excited, surprised; many were crying, and almost all of the young women were wearing high heeled shoes. One young woman actually lost her shoe as she rushed on stage to accept her award and pose for her picture. The winners were of all races, genders, sexual orientation, and religion. However, when the winner for Social Science, Claudio Martinez, was announced, he struggled more than most making it up the stairs. He was very unsteady making his way on stage, which is common for those with cerebral palsy who can walk. What surprised and disappointed me was that the TV reporter who was the emcee for the event said, "There's a real inspiration," when Claudio made it to the top of the stage without falling down. I was shocked and disappointed at this ignorance. He did not make any comment when the one young lady lost her shoe or when the other winners stumbled in their high heels. (click here to read more)



Two red flags with black squares, indicating a hurricane. Interpreter Hands  Miami-Dade County Hurricane Preparedness 

News Conference-May 29th, 2015


Click to watch the conference



Be prepared!

Hurricane season begins on June 1 - November 30. Take charge of your safety by making a hurricane plan ahead of time and stocking up on vital supplies.


outandabout clip art of a suitcase covered in travel stickersOut and About with DIG 
June 25-26          Florida Bar  Annual Convention, Boca Raton, FL
June 26-29          National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)  Roundtable Meeting, Baltimore, MD
July 10                 Florida Bar - Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, Palm Beach, FL
Sept 11                Animal Partners Meeting
Sept 16-19           Florida Bar  Fall Meetings, Tampa, FL
Sept 24-25          Children's Legal Services (CLS) Conference, Tampa, FL
Oct 26-28            Southeastern Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID)  2015 Conference, Myrtle Beach, SC
Nov 5-7               Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)  16TH Annual National Conference, Rosemont, IL
Nov 18-20           OCALICON , Columbus, OH
Nov 19                Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Florida  Luncheon
Rachel's Wallet Card presentation at the 17th Annual Family Caf? in Orlando, Florida
The Wallet Card presented at the Family Caf?

By: Rachel Goldstein 


Senior Staff Attorney Rachel Goldstein attended the 17th Annual Family Caf? in Orlando, Florida and gave a presentation, One Tool for Successful Interactions with Police: The Wallet Card. The Wallet Card Project is the product of a unique collaboration between Disability Independence Group, the Coral Gables Police Department and the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. For more information about the Wallet Card or to get a Wallet Card, visit our website at



Amazon smile logo.

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Jon Kent, Dr. Diane Adreon, Alex Kent, Debbie Dietz (standing) and Lt. Barta and Haley Moss (sitting).  The crew and actors for the 2nd Wallet Card video. walletcard   The Wallet Card Project

By: Debbie Dietz  


Update:  We have made over 1,300 wallet cards this year.  Our video has been played over 11,000 times. 


Go to our website to watch the video and sign up for a wallet card: 



lesly Benefits from SSA for People with Disabilities
head shot of Lesly Quin

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: pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need.


Click here to read more about the Comparison of SSI and Title II Disability Benefits


Seal for the state of Florida
 legLegislative Update  


 1. Regis Little Act to Protect Children with Special Needs, which ensures vulnerable foster youth have a guardian in place at age 18 was signed into law by Governor Scott. 


2. CS/HB 71: Service Animals. Requires public accommodation to permit use of service animal by individual with disability; provides conditions for public accommodation to exclude or remove service animal; revises penalties for certain persons or entities who interfere with use of service animal; provides penalty for knowing & willful misrepresentation with respect to use or training of service animal. This was signed by Governor Scott.


Like our Animal Partners Facebook page
Animal Partners Logo


A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL.

Logo for the fair housing video series.   

Please click

The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi     Head shot of Patricia Bochi. She is in front of a boat that is in the water.
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.

 The website is:                                 Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey
Lucky 13 Casino Night by the Pets' Trust, June 6, 2015
Over 400 people attended the Pets' Trust "Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay Casino Night".
Our client, Monica Alboniga with her children, Stevie the dog, and Yarelys and Marlon from DIG.
Our client, Monica Albonaga, and her family pose with Disability Independence Group staff at the Lucky 13 Casino Night by the Pets Trust

Crystal Lakes Apartment litigation Litigation: Fair Housing Reasonable Accommodations - Hey Mr. Landlord please can you make one little change so I can live in my home?

By: Matthew Dietz


Last month, Disability Independence Group filed two cases, one on behalf of a woman who is blind, and another case on behalf of a veteran who had a massive heart attack and needed a simple accommodation. Instead of allowing a simple and easy accommodation, the Landlord decided to find some way to evict them.   Many landlords believe that it is the terms and conditions of the apartments they rent are not subject to modification - its "take it or leave it." But, the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make modifications to rules, policies or procedures, so that tenants with disabilities can have the same opportunities to live in a home and in an integrated community. (click here to read more)



penuins A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing.
A Parcel of Penguins
The book is currently being printed.  If you supported this project, please email Max and give him your mailing address.  You should have your book soon. 
If you already have a t-shirt please post a picture of you wearing the t-shirt on our Kids Crusaders Facebook Page.

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 

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
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