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DC Metro Business Leadership Network Monthly Newsletter: January 2018

The DC Metro BLN is Ready - Are You?

Let's work together to make 2018 the most strategic disability inclusive year yet!

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GIF description: Green graphic with text that reads "We want to take the opportunity to say thank you. Together, we have achieved more than ever to advance disability inclusion. We wish you the very best in the new year and look forward to working alongside you again in 2018!" USBLN circle logo is animated with snowflakes and lights.

On behalf of the DC Metro BLN Board of Directors and Advisory Board, 
we wish you a Happy New Year!



2018 GALA

October 25, 2018


1775 Tysons Boulevard, Tysons Corner, VA



audioeye  Concepts - Passion, Creativity, Results

Deloitte  Dinah F. Cohen Consulting, LLC

eSSENTIAL Accessibility EY Building a better working world

Gallaudet University General Dynamics

JBG Smith Lockheed Martin

Northrop Grumman

In-Kind Sponsors

Herson Family Vineyards TCS Interpreting TCS Associates

Table of Contents

DC Metro BLN Events

Webinar: Accessibility What to Expect in 2018 

Eduardo Meza-Etienne

Eduardo Meza-Etienne, Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies

 DC Metro BLN Accessibility Chair

January 24, 2018                                                                  12:00 - 1:00 pm EST

Eduardo will discuss the new legislation as it pertains to digital accessibility going into effect in 2018, the recent events regarding ADA as it applies to websites, and some of the new technical requirements the World Wide Web Consortium expects to finalize this year. He will talk about their impact including some of the practical things companies can do to prepare and get ready for these changes.

Please feel free to email Eduardo with your questions prior to the webinar.



Good News!!

2018 Membership Dues are NOT Increasing

but Benefit and Value has!

New Member Benefit! 
Ready to Up Your Game with 2018 In-House Training? 
Members enjoy SME training at 50% savings! 
Contact Katherine McCary to learn more!

DC Metro BLN Organizational Members now have the opportunity to schedule in-house training at 50% savings! This in-house training (1.5 - 3 hours) is for your organization exclusively delivered by C5 Consulting, LLC team of experts. Ideal for your Senior Leadership or Disability ERG, topics include:

  • Disability 101
  • Accessibility
  • The Business Case for Disability Inclusion
  • Building the Talent Pipeline
  • Making Reasonable Accommodations Successful
  • Hiring Managers: What You Need to Know
  • Building an Inclusive Culture
  • Self-ID Benefits Everyone
Level  Annual Fee  Program Registration
 Platinum  $10,000 No Program Fees 
 Diamond  $5,000 $65 
 Gold  $3,000 $65 
 Corporate  $1,500 $65 
 Non-Profit  $750 $65 
 Small Business  $750 $65 
 Individual  $200 $65 
 Individual/SHRM  $175 $65 
 Student  $50 $30 

  • Virtual Program Registration (As Available):           $45
  • Webinar Attendee:                                                   $25
  • Webinar Attendee - Member :                                 $15
  • Non-Member Program Fee:                                  $125

Not a Member? Become One Today! 

Open Membership offers 12 months of benefits and supports our mission.

DC Metro BLN Board News

DC Metro BLN Discussion Board

It's all about the MEMBER NETWORK! All members have access to the Discussion Board where they can comment on topics including veterans, accommodations, Millennials, community partners and accessibility. We have just added a Supplier Diversity Discussion Board- Log on to join the discussion!

USBLN Business Leadership Network Driving Success Through Disability Inclusion

Message from Lynn Kirkbride to Affiliates!

Dear USBLN Family of Affiliates,

Can you believe that 2017 is behind us?  The USBLN knows that you work tirelessly to facilitate state of the art information and information sharing for your companies.  We want you to know how much we appreciate all of the hard work and the dedication that takes to make it happen month after month! 

Accomplishments in our Affiliate Network in 2017 are listed below!  The USBLN added the following BLN's in 2017.... (Utah in December 2016) South Carolina Low Country, Arkansas, Arizona and Mid Missouri BLN's ! Besides this, we have Atlanta, Georgia and North Central Texas in development- ready to join us in 2018!  I am working with 6 other groups to get them in development so 2018 looks bright!  We had 75 attendees representing 24 Affiliates at the Affiliate Leadership Summit in August in Orlando at the USBLN Conference where had over 1,200 participants this year!  We awarded the DC Metro BLN the esteemed Affiliate of the Year Award for 2017 for their outstanding BLN work!  We have averaged 20-25 participants on our monthly Affiliate calls and added the USBLN Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative supported by Wells Fargo this year!  The Chicagoland, Connecticut , DC Metro, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio BLN's have been a part of this pioneering effort to embedded Supplier Diversity into our BLN network! So it has been a banner year and all because of your commitment to your local BLN!  

I wanted to take this time to wish you each the happiest of holidays and a very Happy New Year! I love you each, am so proud of you and hope that we take things to the next level in 2018!

Warm regards,

Lynn - on behalf of the USBLN Team

Lynn Kirkbride, M.S.

USBLN Director of Affiliate Relations

In the News - Articles of Interest

Disability Supplier Diversity Program - DSOP US Business Leadership Network

Disability Supplier Diversity Corner 

Katherine McCary

The Hon. Katherine McCaryC5 Consulting, LLC
WBENC Certified Woman- Owned Business Enterprise 
USBLN Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise

Fourth Annual DSDP Event September 20-22, 2018

Gallaudet University

The DC Metro BLN Disability Supplier Diversity  Committee is working in collaboration with the Deaf Entrepreneurship Network and planning our first joint event!   We will be sharing information regarding corporate sponsorships and registration details and fees in February. If you work in supplier diversity or are a company owned by a person with a disability, you won't want to miss this event! 
Interested in presenting? Contact us!

Committee Co-Chairs

Boeing                   The Resource NetworkDEN - Deaf Entrepreneur Network

Accessibility Corner 

PEAT - Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

Get Started: Why Accessible Technology Matters

PEAT has added a new plain language primer with video resources to help all audiences easily understand the basics of what accessible technology is, and why it matters.

What is Accessibility?

To understand what we mean by accessibility, it's helpful to try experiencing inaccessibility for a moment. Turn off your computer monitor and start typing. Use your phone from under a table where you can’t see it. Unplug your mouse and try to navigate your company website. Set the zoom level in your Internet browser to 500%, limiting the amount of content you can see at any one time. Unplug your speakers and watch a webinar without sound. Get the picture?

Accessibility means that everyone can use the exact same technology as anyone else—regardless of whether they can manipulate a mouse, how much vision they have, how many colors they can see, how much they can hear, or how they process information.

Access by Design

Now you might be wondering how accessibility helps people with disabilities use technology, like surfing the internet. How does it help with operating mobile phones or tablets? The answer is that accessible technology is designed with these capabilities in mind. Accessible technology adds layers into computer operating systems, mobile phones, and more to allow people with disabilities to access the same information as everyone else.

Take a look for yourself at this video of Christine Ha(link is external), a chef who is blind and the winner of the third season of MasterChef, using technology at work.

And what about someone who has limited use of his hands? This video shows how Christopher Hills (link is external, a professional video editor and accessibility advocate, does his job thanks to the accessibility features built into his computer editing equipment.

Accessible Technology vs. Assistive Technology

"Accessible technology" is technology that can be used successfully by people with a wide range of functional abilities. When technology is accessible, each user is able to interact with it in ways that work best for him or her. For example, when using a desktop computer, there are multiple ways to input information—via a mouse, the keyboard, or through a speech recognition system to name a few. If the operating system on the computer is accessible, it will work with any of them.

Accessible technology is either directly accessible, meaning it is usable without any additional devices, or it is accessible through and compatible with "assistive" technology (AT). For example, a smartphone with a built-in screen reader is directly accessible; an online job application is AT-compatible when someone with a visual impairment can navigate through it effectively using a screen reader program such as JAWS. Watch this PEAT video to explore this topic more.


In short, accessibility is all about the user interface; it gives job applicants and employees a built-in, cost-effective, and equitable way to control and use technology. Accessibility often falls into the same category as usability because both seek to improve the user experience and effectiveness of the technology. Usability covers the user experience broadly, while accessibility addresses the specific needs of users with functional differences or limitations.

However, in terms of actual product features, the two terms often overlap. For example, a feature like volume control benefits everyone, as does the ability to zoom the display on a small mobile device. This overlap is often referred to as universal design, which means the design of products so they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Watch this PEAT video to learn more about how universal design can make all employees more productive.

US Business Leadership NetworkMarriott

USBLN and Marriott International Hosted Innovative Session for Travelers with Disabilities

Picture of travelers with disabilities at Marriott headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland

Travelers with disabilities (including DC Metro BLN Board members: Myra Wilder - Marriott, Bob Vetere - Northrop Grumman, Ron Drach - Drach Consulting and Dinah Cohen - Dinah Cohen Consulting) were invited to Marriott Headquarters to discuss disability inclusion

In its second edition, Marriott and USBLN hosted an innovation session for travelers with disabilities to discuss inclusive design in the hospitality industry. The innovation session joined business professionals with disabilities with Marriott’s design team to tour model rooms and provide feedback. The session demonstrated how innovation can be achieved through immersion, open minds and consumer insights.

According to a recent disability inclusion report sponsored by USBLN, as many as 30% of full-time, college-educated professionals in the U.S. have a disability. As these professionals climb the corporate ladder, business and personal travel is likely to increase as well. Marriott International, a key partner of USBLN, values disability inclusion and has incorporated these insights as they develop what hospitality looks like presently, and in the future. The innovation session was held at the Marriott International Innovation Lab in Bethesda, Maryland with individuals from defense contracting companies, consulting firms, non-profits, and disability-owned businesses.

The innovation session series started in 2015, exploring how inclusive design can be incorporated from making a reservation to arriving and enjoying their visit. The first session highlighted the many opportunities in being open to constant improvement and evolution. Thus, a second edition in 2017 was scheduled.

“At Marriott, our core strength lies in our ability to promote a culture of inclusion and create opportunities for all,” said David Rodriguez,  Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer,  Marriott International.  “Our first innovation session with USBLN provided great ideas for further iterations, improvements and essentially, better hospitality – not just for travelers with disabilities, but for everyone. We were excited to conduct a second edition of this innovation session and continue our efforts in leading inclusivity for every traveler.”

This year, the session included an overview of the Marriott International Innovation Lab, a tour of Marriott’s prototype rooms, and a creative discussion on accessible and inclusive design.

“Marriott is paving the way in the hospitality industry with their inclusive design,” says Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN. “We are excited to partner with Marriott for this innovation session and look forward to seeing, not just how they incorporate insights from the sessions, but how other companies learn from Marriott about inclusive design for all.”

US Business Leadership Network

Disability and Inclusion Global Findings Report

Laura Sherbin and Julia Taylor Kennedy with Pooja Jain-Link and Kennedy Ihezie

This report highlights what it is like to be an employee with a disability (or an employer of individuals with disabilities) across five key markets: Brazil, Japan, Germany, UK and India. Sponsors include the USBLN and many USBLN/DC Metro BLN member companies, including Accenture, PwC, and KPMG.

Link to report

Disability Equality Index

 Registration is now open for the 2018 

Disability Equality Index (DEI). 

Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a free benchmarking tool for USBLN partners that provides a confidential opportunity to receive an objective score on disability inclusion policies and practices. It’s an aspirational, educational, recognition tool that helps identify opportunities for continued improvement and helps establish a reputation as an employer of choice. The DEI is a joint initiative with the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Companies can now register for the Disability Equality Index. 

Visit the DEI Website.

We value transparency, learn more about the DEI survey questions.

View the 2017 DEI Best Places to Work.
View the 2016 DEI Best Places to Work.

National Governors Association

An Untapped Talent Pool: 

The Opportunity in Employing People with Disabilities

The National Governors Association's Rachael Stephens, Senior Policy Analyst with the NGA Center for Best Practices Economic Opportunity Division, wrote a blog post about the many benefits hiring people with disabilities brings state workforces and economies. Stephens highlights NGA's participation in ODEP's State Exchange on Employment and Disability, a collaborative of state-level organizations that works to influence legislation targeted at increasing employment for people with disabilities. She also notes the many state governors who observed National Disability Employment Awareness Month by issuing proclamations or taking other actions in their states to support the issue.

 Read the NGA blog

Job Accommodation Network
JAN Consultants Corner

Employee Accommodation Inquiry Letter

From the desk of Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Lead Consultant, Cognitive/Neurological Team

Oftentimes the accommodation process does not advance quite as quickly or as smoothly as everyone involved would like. There may be many reasons for a slower-than-desired outcome, but just how quickly should the process take place?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employer should respond expeditiously (with speed and efficiency) to a request for reasonable accommodation. If the employer and the individual with a disability need to engage in an interactive process, this too should proceed as quickly as possible. Similarly, the employer should act promptly to provide the reasonable accommodation. Unnecessary delays can result in a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Generally speaking, employers should move on the accommodation request as soon as they receive it. They should evaluate whether the request contains the relevant information needed in order to process the request. The relevant, needed information may include documenting the disability, particularly if it is not known or obvious, and the limitations.

Documenting Disability

Under the ADA, when an employee requests an accommodation and the disability is not known or obvious, employers can require medical documentation that the disability exists. The ADA contains a specific definition of disability: an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. When documenting that an employee has a disability, medical professionals may want to use the ADA’s specific language so the information will be helpful for employers.

The first piece of information to include is the employee’s diagnosed impairment. If the employee is hesitant to provide the diagnosis, a more general statement about the medical condition may suffice, but if the employer insists on having the diagnosis it should be provided or the documentation may be considered insufficient.

The next piece of information to include when documenting disability under the ADA is information about what major life activity the impairment substantially limits. There are two categories of major life activities. The first includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, lifting, speaking, breathing, learning, concentrating, thinking, and working. The second category of major life activities is major bodily functions, which includes, but is not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, and reproductive functions.

Providing Accommodation Information

Under the ADA, employers are responsible for recommending and providing effective accommodations. Employers do not always know what accommodations might work so it may be helpful to provide accommodation ideas that the medical professional and employee have. In addition to accommodation ideas, this part of the medical documentation letter should include information about what limitations are causing the employee’s work-related problems and what those problems are. The goal here is to help the employer understand the problem and start exploring solutions. See the following examples to help illustrate the information most useful to the employer:

Example 1: David has epilepsy and will experience difficulty with memory and concentration at times due to medication he takes. Because his work environment is fast-paced and noisy, he would benefit from working in a space that is as free from distraction as is practical. If possible, allowing David to come in an hour early to get work done while the office is quiet would be helpful too.

Example 2: Cheyenne has a learning disability that affects her ability to read information quickly and respond in writing. Screen reading software that also highlights what is being read would allow Cheyenne to comprehend information faster and more thoroughly. Templates of common written responses could help her be more productive.

See JAN’s Practical Guidance for Medical Professionals: Providing Sufficient Medical Documentation in Support of a Patient's Accommodation Requestfor more information on documenting a disability.

Now What?

So, once the employee has submitted sufficient information along with the accommodation request what is s/he to do when the employer has not communicated back in a timely manner?

It might be helpful for the employee to submit a simple written letter of inquiry into the status of the accommodation request. This not only shows that the employee is serious about wanting to resolve the issue, but also displays a good faith effort to work with the employer. Additionally, this letter documents the employee’s efforts to co-operate with the employer in the interactive process. The following is a basic sample letter that can be adapted to fit an employee’s individual needs:

Dear (Employer),

I am writing to inquire about the status of the accommodation request I submitted on (date submitted). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I am willing to provide you with further information, if necessary, in order to process the request and assure the accommodations are put into place quickly.

Thank you for your prompt attention.



Hopefully, the accommodation process will progress expeditiously and the needed accommodations will be put into place swiftly and efficiently. But if not, a simple letter of inquiry may be all that is needed to prompt an employer to take care of the process in a timelier manner. For more complex situations or for those that need a more individualized approach, contact JAN for a consultation.

Upcoming Events in the Area and Beyond 


PEAT - Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

Thursday, January 18, 2018                                                                                        2pm ET

Technology companies dedicated to accessibility often face the challenge of preparing designers, engineers and researchers to think and build inclusively. Similarly, academic programs in design, engineering and HCI are seeking ways to better prepare students to address the needs of diverse populations.

In this webinar, Oath(link is external)'s Senior Director of Accessible Media Larry Goldberg and Facebook(link is external)'s Director of Accessibility Jeff Wieland will discuss how Teach Access(link is external) is working with industry, academia, and advocacy groups to expand the quality and quantity of undergraduate programs that teach the fundamentals of accessibility. Participants will learn why the accessibility teams at Facebook and Yahoo (now Oath) created Teach Access, what its key goals/objectives are, and what initiatives they are currently working on.

Register (link is external)


PEAT Talks is a monthly virtual speaker series to showcase organizations and individuals whose work is advancing accessible technology in the workplace. Held the third Thursday of every month at 2pm ET, these events are designed to be energetic and interactive discussions highlighting a spectrum of exciting work. To see upcoming events in this series, please visit their calendar.

Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

For upcoming webinars in 2018 please visit ADA Mid-Atlantic Center's calendar.


3rd Annual Veterans Awards

The Vetty Awards

January 20, 2018 | The Mayflower Hotel | Washington, D.C.  

Academy of US Veterans
We are grateful for everyone who has supported our mission up to this point and hope they are as encouraged as we are moving forward. Please join us for the 3rd Annual Veterans Awards (Vettys) as we honor those who have served our country while we serve its people in need. 

2018 AAPD Leadership Award Gala


March 13, 2018 | 6:30pm – 9:30pm | Washington, DC

Purchase Tickets!

Early Bird Tickets are on sale now until January 15, 2018 (while supplies last).

NEXTGEN DISABILITY INCLUSION USBLN LAS VEGAS - July 9 - 12, 2018 Annual Conference and Expo

The USBLN has opened registration for the USBLN Annual Conference & Expo. Last year’s conference sold out and this year the event is expected to bring together more than 1,000 attendees from across the country.

The USBLN will host the conference July 9-12, 2018 in Las Vegas. The conference will sell out fast so register today.

Register Now

Registration will go fast; you don’t want to miss out!

Registration Deadlines

Early Bird: February 28, 2018
Regular: June 15, 2018
  • Late and Onsite Registration: USBLN Conference registration fees will increase on June 16, 2018. The cost for all attendees, regardless of organization type, will be $1,400 and will also be applicable to all on-site registrations. Exceptions cannot be made.

Full Conference

3 – Day Package July 10-12, 2018
Includes Conference Meals, Receptions & Leadership Awards Dinner

About Us

The DC Metro Business Leadership Network is an employer led non-profit that uses a business-to business model offering education, training programs and resources to change attitudes and address concerns of businesses so that they learn how to proactively include people with disabilities in the workforce, marketplace and supplier diversity.

Andrea Hall, Chair

DXC Technology

Dan Ellerman, Vice Chair


Brooke Thomas, Secretary

Lockheed Martin

Ellen de Bremond, Treasurer


  • Jenn Bassett, JBG SMITH 
  • Karen Cook, Gallaudet University
  • Michelle Crabtree, Hyatt 
  • Sophie Howard, General Dynamics IT
  • Misty Koper, EY
  • Charlesiah McLean, Leidos
  • Eduardo Meza-Etienne, eSSENTIAL Accessibility
  • Dan Sullivan, KPMG
  • Bob Vetere, Northrop Grumman 
  • Myra Wilder, Marriott International
  • Emily Yee, Deloitte

Advisory Board

  • Dinah Cohen, Dinah Cohen Consulting, LLC (CAP Director, retired)
  • Ron Drach, Drach Consulting, LLC (Chair, Wounded Warrior Committee)
  • Donnielle DeMesme, Golden Key Group
  • Rikki Epstein, The Arc of Northern Virginia
  • Denyse Gordon, CACI
  • Tisha Herne, AudioEye
  • Karen Herson, Concepts, Inc.
  • Patricia Jackson, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Bryan Moseley, TCS Associates
  • Chrissone Palmer, EY
  • Ann Rader, Healthcare Transformation, Strategy Execution & Management Consultant Leading Innovative Solutions
  • Rick Rogers, The Resource Network
  • Carrie Schroeder, PwC
  • Jenn Sharp, KPMG
  • Kia Silver Hodge, Lockheed Martin
  • Sue Werber, C5 Consulting, LLC (Chair, ME Committee)

CEO, Executive Director: The Honorable Katherine O. McCary, C5 Consulting, LLC

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