Your monthly news & updates
A note from Matt....
Happy ADA30. For each anniversary milestone that we reach, we look to the future, and how rights under the ADA are viewed. We have moved from physical barriers to electronic barriers; we have recognized that stigma against persons with disabilities include more than just those with visible disabilities to those with mental illness and histories of substance abuse; we have recognized that policies and practices that have a discriminate against persons with disabilities have a disproportionate effect on communities of Color. The path to eliminate these attitudinal barriers is recognizing these barriers and, like replacing steps with a ramp, altering the policy with a fair and equitable process that recognizes that disability should be accepted and accommodated. 
white box with black writing that says ADA americans with disabilities act
"When racism and ableism combine, the result is another tragedy." So, to honor the 30th anniversary of the ADA and to memorialize those persons of color who have disabilities, it is important to stand together because disability rights are civil rights.
Accessible Voting for the Blind Certified in Florida

temporary braille keyboard
After years of advocacy, the Florida Council of the Blind and their members have fought for the right to independently cast a secret ballot through the vote-by-mail process in Florida.

While over a third of Floridians currently vote by mail, this year the numbers are expected to increase dramatically.
However, for a person who is blind, or otherwise print impaired due to a physical disability, using a mail-in ballot independently and secretly has been impossible, and the voter would require assistance from another person. Accessible Vote-by-mail is the process where a person who is blind, or otherwise print impaired, can receive their ballot on their computer and vote by use of a screen-reader that can receive, read out a ballot, and use assistive devices that can be used to fill out the ballot.

In 2002, the Florida legislature enacted a statute that required the Department of State to develop and implement accessible vote-by-mail, and over twenty states had implemented such systems, Florida had not certified any such system, and accordingly, supervisors of elections for each county could not implement them.

In June 2020, after two years of requests and demands did not work, and the Florida Council of the Blind discovered that the completed certification of the accessible OmniBallot vote-by-mail system was languishing on the Secretary of State’s desk awaiting her signature, the Florida Council of the Blind intervened in an ongoing case with several other organizations to ensure that the right to vote absentee for the blind was finally implemented.

There are over 500,000 persons who are blind in the state of Florida, and hundreds of thousands of others who are print impaired. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, many voters are afraid and reluctant to go to the polls and vote, especially where assistance may be needed with accessible voting machines, and the time to use audible voting machines far exceeds the amount of time to vote for a person who does not need the audible voting machine. Accessible vote by mail allows a voter to have the same experience without risk.
Out and About with DIG

Enable Project - Workshop 3
July 29, 2020
The Intersection of Disability and Civic Engagement

Social Supper Club
August 3, 2020
Virtual - Meeting with Public Defender, Carlos Martinez

Enable Project - Workshop 4
August 12, 2020
The Intersection of Disability & Abuse

Enable Project - Workshop 5
August 26, 2020
How to Host an Accessible Event

FIU Embrace
September 12, 2020
Topic: Education

FIU Embrace
September 26, 2020
Topic: Voting

FIU Embrace
October 3, 2020
Topic: Housing

DIG in the News
30th Anniversary of the ADA
By: Claire Landon
logo for the 30th anniversary of the ADA
July is a significant month for the disability community, especially this year. This month will mark the 30 th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was signed on July 26, 1990, by George W. Bush, and it was enacted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination and guaranteeing people with disabilities the same opportunities.
The ADA defines a physical or mental impairment as a disability if it satisfies at least one of three qualities. The impairment must either limit one or more major life activities, the individual must have a record of having an impairment, or the individual must be perceived by others as having an impairment. If the individual with the mental or physical impairment possess any one of these three qualities, they are considered to have a disability and therefore are covered by the ADA.
This July 26, 2020 will mark the 30 th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, which is an important date to celebrate, since its legal protection from discrimination of people with disabilities.
DIG in! for Equal Justice.
It is that time of the year when attorneys must strive to satisfy their professional responsibility to provide pro bono service. We are hoping that this year you will DIG in! for Equal Justice and make at least a $350.00 contribution to:

This will satisfy your responsibility and help us continue to: 

Guaranty  the rights of all persons with disabilities equal opportunity to live in the community by educating and advocating for their rights.

Fight  discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities, and work with employers and governments to ensure that persons with disabilities have adequate job opportunities.

Ensure  that persons with disabilities have safe interactions with law enforcement through  The WALLET CARD PROJECT  .  This is DIG’s signature efforts in conjunction with police departments to heighten the awareness and communication between law enforcement and people with disabilities.  

Your  $350.00  or more contribution will satisfy The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Responsibility to provide pro bono legal services.

Please make you tax deductible donation using this  link  ,

or mail a check to: 
Disability Independence Group Inc.
2990 SW 35 Avenue    
Miami, FL 33133    
Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)
This is the 30 th of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990. It provides protections from discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Under Titles II and III of the ADA, domestic violence shelters, one of the most important parts of the safety net for victims of domestic violence, must be accessible.

This means that shelters that serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are required to: admit people with disabilities into their shelter, provide reasonable accommodations, and eliminate structural barriers to access.

While the ADA gave us the legal framework for full accessibility, we are not there yet.

Chipping Away at Misconceptions
I am in the cookie aisle trying to decide how to conquer my sweet tooth: the ultimate contenders are narrowed down to the Chunky Chocolate Chips Ahoy and the Mint Oreo. Behind me I hear a small voice. “Mommy! Why is that girl so little and why does she use that thing on wheels?” Her mother swiftly grabs her hand and tugs her down along the aisle as she shushes her daughter. She leans down towards her daughter, in a whisper hoping that I would not hear her, and says, “Honey, we do not say things like that, it is not nice to hurt that nice lady’s feelings.” The curious little girl is already at the end of the aisle before I could turn back and offer a smile or an answer to her question.
As an individual with a physical disability, I have experienced the world from a unique viewpoint. However, the scenario drawn above is not novel. It is one that I and many other people with disabilities have relived time and time again. The parent, the kid, and the comment can all be substituted, but the subtext behind these brief moments of awkward remarks and hurried shuffles is an incredibly narrow and sheltered view of how society interacts with individuals with disabilities. The implications behind the simple beliefs that individuals with a disability are incapable, unintelligent or unwanted further ideas and actions of alienation. While individuals with disabilities fit in a wide spectrum of how they choose to conduct their lives, including their preferences in how they interact with others, their challenges of independent living, and their awareness of their environments, it is far from the truth that people with disabilities do not want to engage and be part of society. The reason awareness of the scenario drawn above and the many that occur just like it is paramount is because it serves as a way to reevaluate and reconsider our interactions as people and with our surroundings. Perceptions built off of misrepresentations or misinformation is dangerous as it breeds fear, confusion, and the perpetuation of the idea that different is bad, wrong or inferior. 

headshot of Ioana in a black shirt with black glasses
Wheels & Heals
“A woman with vision is unstoppable, a woman who is always increasing her skills multiplies. Along with passion this woman is undeniable.” 
―  Janna Cachola
July is the 30 th  Anniversary of the signing of the ADA, marking the biggest shift in embracing the rights of persons with disabilities forever in the United States. I was only five years old when the ADA was signed, a kindergartner, with her entire life ahead of her. I’m grateful each day that this impactful legislation was passed when I just began my life’s journey, as it became the foundation of creating a life abundance and passion that has been nothing but miraculous each step of the way.
Reflecting on the ADA, I’ve very aware of the fact that if this legislation didn’t pass, my career and life path as I know it today – woman, Latina, wheelchair user, entrepreneur – would be nothing more than a fantastical chapter in some random fiction book.  Timing always works out for us , even if we can’t see it in the moment. I’m overfilled with gratitude that today I can push the boundaries of the status quo and build my own life – wheelchair alongside.
As a young 20’s something year old, I found that a passion for writing and research became an area of excellence in my studies. Speed reading through materials and in-turn sharing and explaining what I learned was how I got through college, and began my first side hustle that has since turned into an impactful hustle, empowering community causes that make a difference. 
Fast forward to the end of 2019, my sixth sense told me it was time to shift business operations. Something in my gut knew it was time to alter what was mostly a one woman show to creating a team of professionals who could work together to support nonprofits in a way wasn’t being done before. I’ve always enjoyed working in teams, and knew that working with others who were better at different parts of the business than I was, was essential. Yes, I’m a certified grant writer who has a ton of certificates on a wall…yes, I’ve drafted winning proposals awarding over $14 million in grant funds….but just as I’m strong in some areas, I’m weak in others. Acknowledging one’s weaknesses are essential in continued growth. 
A very special person once told me, “ Life is a journey. Things always happen at the right time .” I couldn’t agree more. After months of planning, we shifted Grants Ink to a one-woman brick and mortar operation to a fully virtual, multi-departmental company in January of 2020. Then, only a couple of months after hiring a staff of 5 wonderful virtual team members based out of Miami and New York - the Covid-19 Crisis hit. While the pandemic definitely changed a lot for us, we were already operating in the online environment – talk about things happening at the right time!
So much of my life has been guided by an energetic force greater than
my understanding; laying out the steps one-by-one at the right time. I try to remind myself daily that even bumps in the road are just detours in the right direction. 
Keep Smiling
Lorinda at the University of Miami Campus with a big banner with a U on it
Preparing Your Animals for a Hurricane
By: Claire Landon
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
  1. Find out if your local public shelter is open and if they accept pets.
  2. Keep a collar and tag on your pet
  3. Make sure your pet's license is current
  4. All pets must have an up-to-date rabies vaccination
  5. What you must bring for your pet
  • Proof of Residency within an evacuation zone
  • Medical and current vaccination records for each pet
  • Miami-Dade County Dog Licence
  • Dog Food and Water with bowls
  • Portable carrier
  • Leash
  • Poop bags
  • Training pads
  • Toys
  • Dog Treats
We are still accepting wallet card applications however, it is taking us about 2 weeks to process each application.
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
Meetings will be every Friday at 11am.

Toll Free Call: (888) 585-9008
Conference Room No.: 133-116-452(#)
VOTE 411
VOTE 411 from The League of Women Voters is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to successfully participate in every election. Whether it's local, state or federal, every election is important to ensuring our laws and policies reflect the values and beliefs of our communities.

Vote 411 logo pink box with the word vote in white letters and below that the number 411 in black ink
Educational Information
Are schools going to reopen this fall for the 2020-21 school year? In the state of Florida, it appears that most districts will at least begin the school year online. We need to start preparing our kids, our families, our bosses for this reality. Spend this time ensuring you have the technology you need to have your kids working online. Do not be afraid to ask your school district for internet hot spots and laptops. Make designated space in your home, if you can, for your kids to work. Get some new school supplies and be ready with new pens and pencils. Be excited for the new school year in front of your kids. They will feed off your energy. Be as positive as you can. I know this is hard. Do it anyway. If your child needs extra support, such as mental health support, reach out to your district and ask for this support. Some school districts have been more open to parental requests for support especially related to mental health concerns. Remember all requests should be in writing (email counts).

Because of all the uncertainty, parents are discussing other options including state virtual school, home school and private school. I fear a mass exodus from the public-school system.

Some words of caution: Do not home school your kids unless you have determined that is the absolute right thing for your family. Home schooling will not be the answer for most families. It will not solve the problem of having the kids home and needing to work or ensuring that your children are receiving an appropriate education. Staying in the system and demanding that the public-school system provide an appropriate education for your student will help all students and keep necessary funding in the district.

Do NOT agree to hospital home bound (HHB). This is not the answer for any student. (unless they are currently undergoing medical treatment like chemotherapy). Hospital home bound for students with disabilities or students with high anxiety or students with compromised immune systems is not the answer to address your child’s needs. Agreeing to hospital home bound will let the district’s off the hook by limiting what the district is obligated to provide. The district is obligated to provide your child with a full time appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Hospital Homebound is the most restrictive placement and will only provide your child with only a few hours (1-3) of instruction each week. It is not true that HHB will result in a teacher coming to your house for direction instruction. Thus far, all instruction has been done virtually. Hospital home bound programs are not meant to address a community wide public health crisis and is not a replacement for a full-time learning program.

If you select Florida virtual school know that this pulls funding out of your school district. Also know that Florida virtual school does not have to implement your IEP or 504 plans as written, so be cautious before making this selection.

Asks lots of questions. For those families who have struggled with online learning, you are not alone. If we hold the district’s accountable there should be no reason that any child falls behind. It might be hard, but we have the means to educate all children. So, stay in public school. We must speak as one voice and demand an appropriate education for all students.
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
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
Virtual Supper Social Club
Zoom Link

08/03/20 6:30pm - 08/03/20 8:00pm

Virtual Supper Social Club with special guest, Public Defender, Carlos Martinez. will send the zoom link a few days before the event.
I'll be there!
I can't make it
Your Upward Journey
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

It is Easier Than You Think!, a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).