Elizabeth Hubbard and Wendy RobbinsOn May 6, 2015, Dade Legal Aid and Disability Independence Group Inc. presented the first training for Attorneys and others in for our children with special needs.
On Saturday, September 20th, I had the opportunity to put on my professor hat and teach Criminal Procedure 101 to a very eager class of persons at the University of Miami. No, not for law students at the Law School, but instead for a class teens and young adults who have Autism and their parents.
A systemic problem in our community, and communities throughout the United States, is that police do not identify that certain behaviors of Autistic people are not indicative of criminal behavior. Disability Independence Group, UM/NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and Lt. Bart Barta of the Coral Gables Police Department developed a program to assist both Autistic people to self-identify when encountering a police person, and the police in how to identify a person who may have Autism. The seminar is just one part of the program, and the other portion is a video that presents scenarios that may occur in police interactions and a wallet card that an Autistic person can use as a tool to self-identify to the police. For more information, please go to our website at www.justdigit.org
On April 7-9, 2014, I had the privilege to attend the 2014 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. and participate in advocacy efforts to make an impact on disability policy. The Disability Policy Seminar is an event that brings together advocates for individuals with disabilities with public policy experts and focuses on major federal issues and pending legislation that affect the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. The seminar provided me the opportunity to network with other advocates from around the country and share experiences about barriers that people with disabilities are facing throughout the country, as well as collaborate on ideas for solutions. Through the in-depth sessions, I learned about the federal policies, provisions, and pending legislation important to people with disabilities, including proposals related to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and SSI that may have effects on federal disability funding, housing, community living, education and employment, and services for individuals with disabilities. (click here to read more)
Best Buddies Seminar – by Stephanie Woodward
In January I was invited to speak at Best Buddies Florida about lobbying and the importance of self-advocacy. I met with teams of Best Buddies Ambassadors to discuss current disability rights issues that they could talk about with their representatives in the Florida Legislature. Since each team of Ambassadors had one person with an intellectual disability and one nondisabled person, I talked to them about the roles of self-advocates and allies and how they can work together to be effective.
Since the Ambassadors were high school students they wanted to know what issues affect them that they could talk to their representatives about, so we discussed student loans; access to higher education for students with disabilities; ending subminimum wage so that the students could be paid fair wages when they begin working; and creating affordable, accessible, integrated housing so that the students could live independently in the community after they graduate.
The Ambassadors also had questions about what they should do if their representative rushes them or tries to control the conversation. We discussed different ways to handle these scenarios and practiced different things they wanted to say.
In the end, the Ambassadors were very excited to go to Tallahassee to advocate for disability rights and I was excited to see new young leaders for the Disability Rights Movement.