Your monthly news & updates
A note from Matt....
Vote. Be a disability voter. One in four U.S. adults has a disability, and every single person knows a person with a disability. In this election year, disability issues predominate. From the effects of COVID-19, expansion of health care, access to education, police reform and mental health care, and many other issues have an urgency in the daily lives of every person with a disability. However, if you don’t vote, then you are not having your say in your future. Vote and vote early.
clip art that is 2020 with the first 0 as a voting button that says your vote counts
Accessible Vote-by-Mail Pilot Project in Miami-Dade County

As part of the Settlement Agreement between the Florida Council of the Blind, Inc. and the 67 Florida Supervisors of Elections, 5 counties were designated as “Pilot Counties” for the November 3, 2020 General Election.

The 5 counties are Miami-Dade, Nassau, Orange, Pinellas, and Volusia Counties. Each agreed to provide an “Accessible Vote-by-Mail System” utilizing Democracy Live’s OmniBallot delivery system.

The following information only applies to Miami-Dade County voters. Voters that live in the other 4 counties will need to contact their Supervisor of Elections for details on how to sign up to receive an electronic ballot in their county.

This is a new method of voting that allows disabled voters to use an electronic ballot to cast a secret, independent, and verifiable vote-by-mail ballot. This project is restricted to registered voters in Miami-Dade County, Florida, who have identified themselves as disabled and are eligible to participate in the 2020 General Election.

Please send an email directly to Leiric Cruz at with your name, date of birth, address, and indicate that you wish to participate in the Accessible Vote-by-Mail Pilot Project. You may also use the attached request form to submit your request. These are PDF fillable forms that you can fill in, print, sign and email back to the supervisor of elections office.

In the subject line of the email please put: Accessible Vote By Mail Request
If you already have a Vote-by-Mail request for the November 2020 General Election, you will still need to submit a request to participate in the pilot program. Once the supervisor of elections receives your request form, your voter record will be updated to reflect your electronic ballot request.

Your request must be received no later than 5:00 pm on October 24, 2020.
Ballots are schedule to be mailed beginning on October 1, 2020.
You may need software such as JAWS or other applications available to voters with impaired vision to assist with marking and reviewing your ballot.
You will be required to print the ballot, assemble the package, sign the Voter's Certificate, and then mail it to the Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE).

Voters participating in the pilot program will still receive a paper Vote-by-Mail packet. The paper ballot sent with this Vote-by-Mail packet, will serve as a back-up to their electronic ballot, if the voter should have an issue in printing their electronic ballot or envelope.
Either way, you are required to enclose their ballot in the certificate envelope, sign it, and return to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

You CANNOT electronically return your ballot to the Elections Office, under Florida State Law. You can have somebody of your choosing return your Vote-by-Mail Ballot to the Elections Office or drop off at a Secure Drop Box at any Early Voting Site.
If you required additional assistance, please email us at or call us at 305-499-8444.
"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.
October 2020 Bar Exam Takers -
Welcome to the Bar

picture of the florida supreme court building looking forward at the front of the building
If the Florida Bar Exam moves forward on October13th, (which I hope that all the pieces fall together, and it is successful), I would like to welcome you into our exclusive club of Florida Lawyers. But I would like to apologize for the period of hazing that you have undergone because of our initiation rites.  The rigor of the investigation of your character and fitness and the memorization of voluminous knowledge that you will never use does not even parallel the normal Greek Life rites of memorizing the Greek Alphabet or the motto on the side of a Budweiser can. In addition, there is no way to mentally prepare for the examinus interruptus on three different occasions. I hope that the harm that you have suffered because of lost opportunities, jobs, familial time, health care, and increased debt can be repaired in time. However, once you do get on the other side of the door, you should not easily forget the frustration that you have felt for months and the fact that your legitimate needs were ignored by the profession in which you have chosen to be a part. You should take this frustration and demand change.

Time to Change the Florida Bar Admission Process from a Hazing Ritual into Collaborative Process.
The current bar admission process is a hazing ritual. Florida Law prohibits hazing, which is defined “as any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to:… (b) Admission into any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution;” § 1006.63, Fla. Stat. Such actions include, but are not limited to any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student.

Of course, the Florida Bar is not operating under the sanction of a Florida law school, but as a profession, from the law school, to the bench and the bar, we have ignored the very real statistics that in 2019, over 62% of new lawyers stated that they have suffered from anxiety or depression or both, and 36% of those self-medicated with alcohol.[1] The issues with mental illness and substance abuse are substantially similar for law students.[2]

           The purpose of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners is to both certify the technical competence of those admitted, but, more importantly, to protect the public and to safeguard the judicial system. It would seem that as a mater of common sense that the public would be better protected, and our judicial system would be safeguarded by ameliorating the stressors of these applicants instead of exacerbating these conditions. Our current path, especially with the Florida Bar’s class of COVID-19, will lead to a mental health crisis in the profession, and a danger to the public.

[2] Jerome Organ, David Jaffe & Katherine Bender, Suffering in Silence: The Survey of Law Student Well-Being and the Reluctance of Law Students to Seek Help for Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns, 66 J.Legal Educ., Autumn 2016, at 128-134
Out and About with DIG
FIU Embrace
October 24, 2020
Topic: Voting

FIU Embrace
October 31, 2020
Topic: Housing
DIG in the News
Watch our Webinar on Coping with Stress
Thank you to our speakers:
Brian Cuban
Kelly Charles-Collins
Brian Tannebaum
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)
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in October.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981. The “Day of Unity” soon evolved into a week, and in October of 1987, the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. In 1989 Congress passed a law officially designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In this time of COVID, we are spending an extraordinary amount of time in our homes.

For most, our home is a place of love, warmth, and comfort. It is somewhere that you know you will be surrounded by care and support, and a break from the real world. But for millions, home is anything but a sanctuary.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. 

Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other. 
1 in 4 men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

These statistics are staggering and when we hear them, we always wonder why? Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

The answer is that sometimes, people don’t know if they are really in an abusive relationship because they’re used to their partner calling them crazy or making them feel like all the problems are their own fault.

In support of Domestic Violence Month, I want to share a few ways to know if you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship:

  1. Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.
  2. Your partner is possessive. They check up on you constantly wondering where you are; they get mad at you for hanging out with certain people.
  3. Your partner is jealous. (A small amount of jealousy is normal and healthy) however, if they accuse you of being unfaithful or isolate you from family or friends, that means the jealousy has gone too far.
  4. Your partner puts you down. They attack your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities. They blame you for all of their violent outbursts and tell you nobody else will want you if you leave.
  5. Your partner threatens you or your family.
  6. Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If they EVER push, shove, or hit you, or make you have sex with them when you don’t want to, they are abusing you (even if it doesn’t happen all the time.)

If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, HELP IS AVAILABLE.

You can call CVAC at (305) 285-5900 or MUJER at (305) 247-1388
Lucy the Dog
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Don’t stress over what could’ve been. Chances are if it should’ve been, it would’ve been and would be.

September 20th, 2020 marks the six-year anniversary of the fall in front of my house that led to my disability. After months and months in and out of the hospital, multiple surgeries on my spine and one on my brain, I came home unable to stand or walk, no longer working, wondering what in the heck I was going to do now. I’ve come a long way since then and have done a tremendous amount of physical therapy to regain some of my mobility. This month I went back through some photos and videos from the past to document where I started and how far I’ve come. I came across a bunch of photos from before my injury, and I found myself, while usually very positive, wallowing in the “why didn’t I appreciate what I had, and what I could do way back then?” My mobility, my ability to dance, run up and down stairs …. It had all gone away and I should’ve appreciated it all so much more while I still had it. I’ve started referring to this as severe case of the “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.”

For those of us recently disabled, I believe there is a process we go through, focusing on “why me?” and the “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” before our injuries. When I was first in the hospital, I would hear people walking down the hallway in front of my room and I would cry because I knew I couldn’t get up and walk down the hall if I wanted to. I kept thinking I should have appreciated walking so much more when I could actually do it. It was a difficult time and dwelling on the past just made it that much more difficult for me.

It’s not just those of us who are disabled, however, that tend to focus on these “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.” I’ve found this happens to all of us, whether it’s longing for that career we never pursued, or that degree we never obtained, or that marathon we never trained for. So many things that could have been. Our history of what we haven’t done, what we could have done, and, yes, what we should have done, often plagues our lives to the point of not appreciating what we actually have done.

What I’ve learned since those days in the hospital, is that if I focus too much on what could have been, I lose sight of what is happening right now. And, in my case, focusing too much on those days before my injury, and how much I’ve lost, distracts me from how far I’ve actually come. My progress since I came home from the hospital has been so much more than the physicians ever predicted and is the product of a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. In the past 6 years, I’ve gone from not being able to stand up or take one step, to now being able to stand with a walker and walk about one half of a mile at a time. All of this combined with a tremendous improvement in balance and being much more functional on my feet, than when I first came home from the hospital. Sure, I could immerse myself in memories of those days before all of this happened, when I was walking, running and dancing, without assistance, without injury. But that won’t help me in the here and now, which is the most important, and I believe one of the reasons I’ve made so much progress. Instead of letting the past get to me, I make small goals for myself with reasonable timeframes, now, to get to where I want to be in the future.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t keep our memories. We absolutely should. Just don’t dwell on what has passed for too long. Don’t waste your time thinking about what could have been, when you could be thinking about what could be. 
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
How a PASS plan can help you?

A PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) allows you to set aside other income besides your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or resources for a specified period of time so that you may pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate the SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you currently receive.

Who can have a PASS?
If you receive SSI or could qualify for SSI after setting aside income or resources so that you may pursue a work goal, you could benefit from a PASS.

Requirements for a PASS:
Be designed especially for you;
Be in writing. Using the form, the SSA-545-BK.You can get copies of the PASS form from
Have a specific work goal that you are capable of performing;
Have a specific timeframe for reaching your goal;
Show what income you receive (other than your SSI payments) and/or resources you have that you will use to reach your goal;
Show how you will use your income and resources to reach your work goal;
Show how the money you set aside will be kept separate from other funds;
Be approved by SSA; and
Be reviewed periodically by SSA to assure your plan is actually helping you make progress towards your work goal.

What can I purchase with a PASS?
The money you save in a PASS can be for education, vocational training, starting a business, or buying support services that enable you to work. This includes assistive technology to help you with your employment goal. With a PASS plan you can save to purchase assistive technology such as:
- Equipment and supplies you need to establish and carry on a trade or business;
- Equipment or tools you need because of your condition or for your job;
- Modifications to buildings and vehicles to accommodate your disability;

Can I get help to complete the PASS application?
You should write your PASS with the help of a rehabilitation specialist, such as a Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or your local WIPA project. SSA has contracted with local organizations to provide benefits planning. Some of these organizations may be able to assist with completing a PASS application. For more information about the Work Incentives Planning Assistance, go to:

Also, the PASS Cadre is required to keep a list of agencies that can help with completing the PASS application.

Tips for Success:
Connect with your local Work Incentive Planning and Assistance project to better understand this work incentive as well as other work incentives available to assist you in your return to work:

Contact a PASS Cadre: 800-254-9489

Other things to know about PASS plans:
You can use any money for a PASS plan other than SSI.
If setting aside your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) would allow you to meet SSI's income requirements, then you could qualify for both SSI and PASS. (You will need to show that you can live on the SSI payment and that you will be able to use your other income to pay for the items and services you need to achieve your goal.)
To build assets for your PASS plan, you will open a PASS account with your local bank. A PASS account is a checking account that will be used for all your PASS plan banking transactions.

More information on Plans for Achieving Self Support:
Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute
South Florida WIPA project: 305 453 3491 ask for your local county benefit planner.
The Wallet Card Project
We are taking a short break from making wallet cards. We will start making wallet cards soon.
Please check our website for updates.
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)
Meetings will be every Friday at 11am.

All meets are now with Zoom.

Join our mailing list for the zoom link.
ATVFL Accessibility Summit
Save the date! Access The Vote Florida will be holding an Elections Accessibility Summit on October 6, from 9 am to 1 pm! There will be panels on improving website accessibility, election security and accessibility, equipment demonstrations, and accessible vote by mail. Special guests include Michelle Bishop from National Disability Rights Network and Brian Finney, President of Democracy Live. Join us for great discussions about disability, election accessibility, and you!
ATVFL Candidate Questionnaires
Learn more about who you're voting for in November. Check out Access The Vote Florida's 2020 Candidate database. Search by Candidate Type, House District, or Senate District.
How to Return you Vote-by-Mail Ballot
voting drop box for the miami dade county elections department
Your ballot can be returned five different ways.

1)     You can mail your ballot back to the supervisor of elections. If you choose this option, the postage will be paid for you during a countywide election and you are not required to put a stamp on the envelope. You must use the USPS (United States Postal Service) and the ballot must be received by 7pm on Election Day.

2)     You can drop off your ballot at any of the early voting locations. You must put the ballot in a secure drop box during the hours of operation.

3)     You can drop off your ballot in person during business hours (9am -5pm, Monday-Friday) at one of two locations.

a.      The Miami-Dade Elections Department at 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172

b.      Stephen P. Clark Center Voter Information Center at 111 NW 1st Street, Miami, FL 33128

4)     You can drop off your ballot at one of four designated locations on Election Day (7am – 7pm).

a.      Elections Department (Main Office), 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172

b.      Elections Branch Office (Stephen P. Clark Center), 111 NW 1st Street, Lobby, Miami, FL 33128

c.      N. Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd Street, Miami Gardens, FL 33056

d.      S. Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th Street, Cutler Bay, FL 33189

5)     You can designate someone to drop off you ballot.

a.      This is limited to two ballots per election

b.      Only one of which may be from a voter who is not the spouse, parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the designee.

REMEMBER: On Election Day, you CAN NOT drop off your ballot at your precinct. Florida law does not allow this. If you wait until Election Day to submit your ballot you MUST either drop it off at one of the four designated locations or you can choose to vote in person at your precinct.

You can track your Vote-by-Mail ballot on the Elections Department website.
Vote 411 logo pink box with the word vote in white letters and below that the number 411 in black ink
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.

Educational Information
Stephanie will be back next month.
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-- Topic is Cooking with Sharon and ABLE United.
Zoom Link

10/05/20 6:30pm - 10/05/20 8:00pm

Virtual Supper Social Club. We 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).