2021 Monthly Newsletter
A note from DIG....
Amanda Gorman speaking at the inauguration with her hands held up.
We've braved the belly of the beast,
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn't always just-ice.

- Amanda Gorman – Inaugural Poem –
“The Hill We Climb”
people standing in a line on the side of the street waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution has Failed Seniors with Disabilities.
The distribution scheme in Florida is like announcing to a room of ravenous teenagers that their pizza delivery has arrived. Except, in Florida’s case, it’s a rush of senior citizens attempting to the few life preservers that are available. Some seniors could get the vaccine. These seniors have the time and ability to incessantly call and make an appointment, wait in line for hours, and have transportation ready and able to take a person and wait for them to get immunized. But this does not take into account the millions of seniors who do not have the ability, resources or assistance to jump through these hurdles to get the vaccine.

On January 22, 2021, Disability Independence Group filed a complaint with the United States Department of Health and Human Services to highlight the complete failure to provide access to the State of Florida’s vaccine program to persons with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that persons with disabilities receive equal access to all programs and services of state and local government. The State of Florida or local governments cannot have a program or service that is not equally accessible for all of its citizens and need to make modifications to their programs so persons with disabilities can have the same access. The limitation on this duty is if the modification is a fundamental alteration or undue burden in view of all of the resources of the governmental entity.

Calendar of Events
February 5, 2021
State Chapter Meeting

Greater Miami Jewish Federation, JCRC
February 16, 2021
Advocating for the Rights of People of All Abilities

March 5, 2021
State Chapter Meeting

FIU Embrace
March 13, 2021

FIU Embrace
May 15, 2021
Supported Decision Making/Guardianship Update

The Family Cafe
June 2021
The Wallet Card Project

The Family Cafe
June 2021
ATVFL - Update
Flyer for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation event on Feb 16 with pictures of sabrina cohen and debbie dietz on the flyer
DIG in the News
Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)
We have heard so much about the effect of almost a year of the COVID 19 pandemic has had on all of us. The strain on mental health has been extraordinary. I want to share with you a new resource that we hope will bring help to those who need it.

 Our Miami Inclusion Alliance partner MUJER, a non-profit community based social service organization that provides invaluable services to victims and survivors of abuse, has just extended its mental health services with the launch of the Stay Healthy 24/7 Hotline.

When individuals call the (786) 829-0099 hotline, a therapist will give immediate short-term therapy services and then refer the caller to other long-term services depending on the situation. “The caller could be the over-stressed mom who is also a teacher schooling a child at home or an unemployed individual who is struggling to make ends meet or maybe a grandmother who is facing this pandemic alone and scared of the what-ifs,” says Susan Rubio Rivera the Executive Director of MUJER. Valerie Crum, Miami Foundation’s senior programs associate is excited about the new effort, “As our community rebuilds, they are stepping up and filling in the gaps with a free, 24/7 emotional support helpline so that anyone can access direct therapy without worrying about affordability, insurance or transportation, this bilingual hotline will also help reduce the stigma around mental health and encourage people to seek out support. 
flyer from MUJER about coping with covid emotional support line
Animal Partners
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
animal partners logo with the word animal in black with a silhouette of a puppy and then the word partners in blue
Lucy sitting on the couch with a tv table filled with bark cards
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Justine will be back next month.
Education Update
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
COVID-19 closures and distance learning continue to wreak havoc for kids with disabilities. 

Distance learning has been a challenge for most families but no more than for families with students with disabilities. From the most severe disabilities to the children who just have a hard time staying focused, distance learning does not work for most. This puts families in the impossible position of having to return children to brick and mortar school while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage. Some parents have been happy with the option to return their children to brick and mortar schools, but for other families the decision is not so clear. Some families struggle with having to decide to put their health at risk, or the health of a family member, with returning to school. The State of Florida has just made this decision even harder. On November 30, 2020, the State of Florida issued new guidance for public schools which puts added pressure on school districts to bring more students back into brick and mortar schools for the Spring Semester. Students who are not making adequate progress (obtaining passing letter grades) or not attending school regularly are being required to return to brick and mortar schools. Parents have the choice to keep their children at home, but some Districts are now requiring parents to sign waivers if the select to stay home. Districts are also required to file a Spring Intervention Plan which identifies what additional services and supports will be put into place for students who are struggling. It will be cheaper for districts to provide these additional supports and services in brick and mortar schools rather in student’s homes. Thus, school districts are putting tremendous pressure on parents to return to in person school, with little regard for health of the individual family. It is unclear how these waivers will be used against the families who later seek compensatory services to close any achievement gaps associated with the pandemic and distant learning deficits. 

Wheels & Heels
Lorinda at the University of Miami Campus with a big banner with a U on it
Lorinda will be back next month.
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
How SSA- Work Incentives Planning and Assistance WIPA can support SSA beneficiaries?

Community Based program from SSA to provide work incentives information and planning services to SSI and SSDI beneficiaries pursuing employment; ages 14 to 65. WIPAs provide assistance in the following areas:
–    Orientation to understand SSI and SSDI benefits
–    Orientation to understand Medicare and Medicaid
–    Orientation about SSA work incentives
–    Help to understand how employment will impact your benefits
–    ensure informed choices 
–    get rid of fear in pursuing employment
–    Individualized benefits verification & analysis
–    Prevent and/or resolve benefits issues
–    help identify needs & make referrals
•     Exploring employment options
•     Identifying local service providers
•     Accessing community resources
–    Assets building
–    Follow-up services

Early intervention and education about benefits and work incentives helps prevent future problems (overpayment, unplanned or unexpected loss of benefits, financial hardships, etc.) Failure to educate on benefits is a missed opportunity which may cause harm.

If you would like more specific information about work incentives, are currently receiving WIPA services or have been previously served by a WIPA project, our Certified Work Incentives Coordinators are here to help at: office (305) 453 3491. Serving South Florida: Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry Counties

Ticket to Work Helpline
For general questions about work incentives call the Ticket to Work Helpline at 1-886-833-2987 or TTY 1-866-833-2967 Monday- Friday 8:00AM-8:00PM.
The Wallet Card Project
The wallet card is a tool to be used by a teenager or an adult with a disability. Currently, we have developed cards for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities.
Access the Vote Florida (ATVFL)
We will have monthly meetings on the first Friday of the Month at 11am by zoom.
Supper Social Club - We are Virtual
black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
Our next Virtual Supper Social Club event will be the first week of March. We will send you more information soon.
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!, a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).