Recent Blog Posts

law students protesting in front of the supreme court with signs that says our profession needs us and I would rather be taking the bar exam

October 2020 Bar Exam takers – Welcome to the Bar: Time to Change the Florida Bar Admission Process from a Hazing Ritual into Collaborative Process.

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

If the Florida Bar Exam moves forward on October 13th, (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… Read More »

National Suicide Awareness Month – For Bar Applicants and New Lawyers

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

This year has been a year of unprecedented stress for students in law school, graduates, and new lawyers.  If you feel overwhelmed and would like help, but afraid of repercussions to your license or your career, send me an email at mdietz@justdigit.org, or call me at (305) 669-2822. No judgment – just free advice from a disability rights lawyer with over 20 years of experience in assisting people to be treated fairly and without stigma.

Braille Purple Keyboard with hands on it for Voting

Accessible Voting for the Blind Certified in Florida

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

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.  Today, they have finally won this right. While over a third of Floridians currently vote by mail, this year the numbers are expected to… Read More »

black and white pictures of persons in wheelchairs in an institutional setting

Valuing and Devaluing the Disabled Human Life in Florida

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

The response to this outbreak is far from the empathetic “American Way,” but instead, we have lapsed into the Hobbesian ethic, where we deny essential testing to the most vulnerable, deny scarce life-saving equipment, rationalize the denial by claiming that the old and disabled would have died in any event.  Then to place insult onto the injury, Florida may immunize those who deny care from total immunity.  Even in the event we are overreacting to this pandemic, it still should be a clear signal that disability discrimination may be the only tenet that will be alive and well in our society.

Changes to Florida Statutes that Effect Civil Rights and Fair Housing in Florida

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

By: Matthew Dietz During the 2020 legislative session, there has been significant changes in statutes that prohibit discrimination in the State of Florida.  These changes affect the way that civil rights claims are processed by the administrative agency that investigates such claims, the rights of claimants for they day in court, and it also… Read More »

picture of a unicorn and a rainbow

What to do with your Emotional Support Unicorn? – HUD’s New Guidance on Assistance Animals

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

On January 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published new guidance on Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act.  The goal of the document is to provide both housing providers and persons with disabilities guidance on what is required to… Read More »

text of picture of man in white KKK robes infront of three burning crosses, with "I wonder who is in this robe? in a text above the picture

City of Tampa Files Race and Gender Discrimination in Housing Case

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

Ms. Washington was targeted by a housing provider who felt emboldened to prey on a vulnerable resident who could not move to a new location because of the lack of affordable housing options. For months, Ms. Washington was subject to racial and sexual harassment, false reports to authorities so she would have her children removed or housing vouchers revoked, harassment of her guests because of their color, and a wrongful eviction.

Albert Schaw, a man in a bright green manual wheelchair wearing grey pants and a grey t-shirt about 20 years old with brown hair and a beard with his left arm around a huge black hound, great dane mix that is the same height as Mr. Schaw when he crouches in his wheelchair.

Are you requesting to saddle the camel or cut off its hump?  Reasonable accommodations under disability rights laws

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

By Matthew W. Dietz, Esq. On September 18th, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided Schaw v. Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County, in a very easy to read opinion that spelled out the process for determining whether an accommodation for a disability is reasonable and necessary.  U.S. Circuit Court Judge Kevin Newsom, the… Read More »

ADA Sanctions Order Will Lead to Outreach and Education to the Disability Community

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

For twenty years as a disability rights lawyer, I still feel compelled to explain to judges or attorneys that I am not like the attorneys who file the carbon-copy ADA cases that clog the federal docket.  Today is another day which I feel compelled to explain myself.  On Friday, Senior U.S. District Court Judge… Read More »

Cartoon picture of mutley the dog and dick dastardly in their orange bi-plane

New Guidance on Emotional Support Animals for Air Carriers – What does it mean?

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

By Matthew Dietz Introduction: Almost nothing has engendered more controversy than turkeys, peacocks, and pigs on commercial aircraft.  As a result of the many passengers who choose to bring their animals on aircraft, airlines have been establishing new guidelines without oversight or guidance from the Department of Transportation and their view of enforcement of… Read More »

matt in a suit with a tiny brown puppy

Matthew Dietz – New Chair of the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

I am so excited and proud to be the Chair of the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar.  At the 2019 Florida Bar Convention, we educated the mind and soul of the membership of The Florida Bar.

Raymond Bishop, an 84 year old man, kneeling at a dock with sailboats behind him, with his two dogs, ranger and roxie at his knees

When Losing your Emotional Support Dogs is Too Much To Much to Bear

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

When the police arrived at his unit, Raymond Bishop refused to drop his weapon.  After the police plead with him for three minutes, Mr. Bishop raised his pistol.  He was killed.  His two dogs, Roxie and Ranger were cowering in Raymond Bishop’s bed.  On his desk, there was a suicide note:

Arnaldo Rios Soto holding a teddy bear

Will Arnaldo Rios-Soto see Justice, or does Justice see Disability as Dangerous?

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

As a disability advocate, and as Arnaldo Rios-Soto’s lawyer, the trial of Officer Aledda is a watershed moment.  Will Arnaldo be deemed to be inherently dangerous because he is different?  Will there be a stereotype that because Arnaldo lives with a developmental disability, the fact that he was targeted was justified?  I hope not. 

Justine Chichester with a red orchid in her hair

The View From Here

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

The fear I’m facing is not because of the actual steps I’ve started taking again or the actual act of being up on my feet. The fear is from the unknown. Just as I faced years ago in the dark. Will I fall, or will I balance? Will my body give out, like it did so many times before, or will I stand and walk safely as I did for years and years before? The fear is crippling and debilitating. It creeps in to my therapy to the point where it prevents me from standing on my own because I’m so scared of what might happen

greyhound on couch

Can Greyhounds be Emotional Support Animals?

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

Greyhounds are very friendly, affectionate, gentle, quiet, sweet, loyal, clean, loving, sensitive, trusting and good natured dogs that would make great emotional support animals.

Are Doctors or Hospitals Required to Provide Interpreters for Deaf Patients and what are the penalties for not doing so?

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

A Deaf patient has the right to participate in his or her care to the same degree as a hearing person, including conveying and receiving medical information from doctors or a hospital.  The ultimate result of the treatment does not matter as much as having the ability to understand the entire treatment.

AFTEREFFECT – A SWAT team, an autistic man, an American tragedy.

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

  Aftereffect is a podcast produced by WYNC Studios, and hosted by Audrey Quinn.  In this series, Audrey weaves Arnaldo Rios-Soto’s story and explains how Florida is ill-equipped to provide adequate community-based services for him, and what he went through.  The synopsis of the eight episode series is as follows:  In the summer of… Read More »

Hooters Logo - Orange Letters saying HOOTERS with the two eyes of the owl as the two o's

How Hooters killed a Bad Florida Pro-Business ADA Protection Law

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

A settlement is an agreement between two parties as a resolution of a case and does not affect the rights of any third party.  Even a judgment only affects the parties involved.  The only method to insure compliance with the ADA or any other statute that includes standards for compliance – is to comply with such standards.  With the Americans with Disabilities Act, It’s been almost 28 years since the statute has been enacted.  For defense attorneys who do not obtain compliance with the standards to obtain a settlement, their clients will always be subject to additional suits.  In other words, it’s a gamble, and it could be penny wise and pound stupid.

Office Animals for Wellness

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

The question for all persons who focus on wellness is how to maintain mental, spiritual, and physical balance when being besieged by crisis (both real and perceived) from all sides. In this issue, I give my answer – Lucy. To quote my favorite industrialist, Willie Wonka, – “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”  #WellLawyer

Justine Chichester with a red orchid in her hair

The View From Here

By Disability Independence Group, Inc. |

It’s amazing to think so many emotions can be tied to pieces of cloth hanging in your closet. It happens to all of us, though. Not just after a traumatic experience. We all keep the jeans we wore in college, or the pretty dress from that special first date. It’s not necessarily the article of clothing itself is that special; it is the connection that piece of cloth represents to an important moment of time in your life.