Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

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Newsletter - Volume #8 August 2016
A Note from Matt ...

Matt and Max standing next to a tree in Georgia
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are taking place between September 7 and September 18.  This will probably be the only sports event I watch all year!!!  The 267-member US team will bring us home the gold!

If its as good as the promos, I'll be hooked. Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocLkk3aYlk 
DIG in the News
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This month, there are thousands of articles about what DIG is doing, and how we are helping our clients.  Over 300 media outlets have written articles about Arnaldo Rios, the horrible shooting in North Miami, and the attempts to find housing for Mr. Rios.  To keep up to date, please friend Disability Independence Group on Facebook, or
follow DIG at @justdigit or Matthew Dietz @dislaw.

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featuredarticleThe Wallet Card Project

We are so proud of this project and we strongly believe in what we have created and what we are doing. The Wallet CardTM Project was created for independent individuals with either an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmental or an Intellectual Disability. We have made over 3,000 cards and have had several more requests. The purpose of The Wallet CardTM is as a tool to assist persons with disabilities to self-disclose his or her disability to law enforcement. However, we have had a number of requests from parents that would like a card for their child who has a disability that is under 14 or that is non-verbal, and would not have independent interactions with law enforcement. We have revised our online application to now ask these two questions.
We understand the need for a second type of card and we are working to create one. But, it is not ready yet, and we don't want to make cards solely as identification and not a tool for independence for persons with disabilities. This project was created with DIG - a disability rights organization, UM-NSU CARD - an academic resource on autism, and the Coral Gables Police Department - an expert on the police, and it is very well thought out and a lot of planning went into the development of every aspect of the project. We do not want to create a second card without the same careful thought process.

Click here to read more
Out and About with DIG
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9-8-16   Child Protection Summit, Orlando, FL 
9-9-16 ABC's of Emotional Support Animals, Tallahassee, FL
Shake-Shack Fundraiser, Coral Gables, FL 
2016 Florida Institute on Homelessness and Supportive Housing , Orlando, FL 
2016 DRBA West Coast Conference, Los Angeles, CA
12-7-16  Coral Gables Advisory Board on Disability Affairs In-house Training, Coral Gables, FL 
Brochure for fair housing seminar in Tallahassee on September 9, 2016
Type RSVPext here.
Matt and Intern Maddy K. with Murphee the dog
Matt with Maddy the intern and Murphee the dog
Lisa dressed for the race track with a big white hat and dressed in black and white.
Lisa on her way to an inspection for a case.
Picture of Rachel sitting next to her dog.
litigationLitigation: Siler v. Abbott House Condo
By: Matthew Dietz

  Rachel Siler was looking forward to moving to Miami Beach in April 2016. Rachel went to art school in Chicago and lived there for thirteen years. After graduating from college she started working in the Independent Living and Disability Rights Movements and has been working in the field for the past eight years. Aside from this passion she has also represented the disability community within the Occupy and Anti-war Movements. When she isn't fighting for social justice she enjoys reading, antiquing and designing.
For the past thirteen years, she had lived in cold and windy Chicago working at Chicago's Access Living, assisting people with disabilities and a coordinator of Chicago ADAPT, an organization that has dedicated disability rights activists that engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. She found a job as an independent living specialist at the Center for Independent Living of South Florida and was ready to move to sunny Miami Beach.

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Julie is taking a break and will be back in a few months.  If anyone would like to be a guest author please contact us at debbie@justdigit.org.
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dv At The Intersection of Disability and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

Special Olympics is a global organization with programs in 170 countries.   To create a safe environment for their athletes they have the Protective Behaviors Training that is mandatory for all volunteers. Special Olympics makes it clear that they recognize that "the mistreatment of people with intellectual disabilities ranges from horrifying to the subtle". They go on to state that "any vulnerable person, anywhere in the world, can be abused in ways that leave no marks on the body but terrible scars on the soul". The goal of the mandatory training is the prevention of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of its athletes. All class A volunteers, 16 years of age or older, must complete the on line training. It is also available to anyone who wants to take the course including families.
The course is to prevent abuse and below is an example of the type of information and questions they provide.
Recognizing Sexual Predators
A sexual predator could be anyone. There is no "look" or behavior pattern that sets them apart. Sexual Predators:
  • Target vulnerable populations (such as children and individuals with intellectual disabilities);
  • Come from all backgrounds;
  • Can be male or female;
  • Are generally very likeable and have warm personalities;
  • May have limited relationships with other adults
It is important to remember that not everyone who comes to a Special Olympics event is a volunteer who has been screened and is assumed to be "safe".
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at sharon@justdigit.org
The Wallet Card Logo.  A blue hexagon with the words the wallet card in the hexagon.
walletcardThe Wallet Card Project

The wallet card is a tool for young adults to use when they 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.

give a card get a card campaign.
Shop Amazon Smile
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Benefits from SSA for People with Disabilities
By: Lesly Lopez
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 SSDI: pays benefits to people with disabilities and certain members of your family if the beneficiary is "insured," meaning that he/she worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income SSI pays benefits to people with disabilities based on financial need.
Resources:     http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/types.html  
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Accessibility at the DNC

     At the risk of giving the impression that I am affiliated with either political party, I wanted to take this opportunity to commend the Democratic National Committee on their efforts in ensuring that the Democratic National Convention offered a high degree of accessibility for all those in attendance. You may or may not know that there has actually been much more conversation around disability in this election than ever before. (A previous month's news article went into detail about both parties' platforms on disabilities.)

     The DNC made subtle but effective moves to foster a sense of inclusion for people with disabilities.  Anastasia Somoza, disability rights activist, was just the first of several disability speakers slated to appear during the convention and a blind man was selected to sing the national anthem.
shack Flyer for Shake Shack event on 9-21-16 11am - 11pm

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The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
patuYour 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.


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penguinA Parcel of Penguins


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. 
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Disability Independence Group, Inc.

Thank you to the organizations that support our projects.

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