3x your impact! From March 12-31, Amazon is tripling the donation rate on your first smile.amazon.com purchase! Go to smile.amazon.com/ch/41-2220656 and Amazon donates to District of Columbia Business Leadership Network.

DC Metro Business Leadership Network 

Monthly Newsletter: March 2018

Daman Wandke

AbiliTrek / Access Travel LLC

Daman WandkeAbilitrek

For those of you who have been engaged in the USBLN, you have most likely met Daman who served as Chair, Student Advisory Council 2010-2013. The DC Metro BLN is proud to call Daman our friend and to share his exciting entrepreneur announcement! Help us to support this amazing leader!- Katherine McCary

In April 2017, I launched AbiliTrek, a company geared toward bettering the travel experience for people with disabilities. My dream was sparked by my experiences while traveling as a person with Cerebral Palsy.

AbiliTrek began as a hotel booking service and is now in the midst of a pivot. We have phased out the hotel booking service and are in the process of creating a Yelp-like app with the goal of improving access for people with disabilities. With the hotel booking service came a review that a user could fill out (i.e. rating the accessibility). AbiliTrek’s new service will not only allow people to complete reviews of hotels, but will be more inclusive in that people will be able to rate and review the accessibility of almost any place (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.).

Currently, the travel industry lacks the information needed for travelers with disabilities. This makes adventuring a daunting and exhausting task. I created AbiliTrek to be a fundamental resource for any traveler with a physical disability to counteract the current state of the travel industry and make traveling with a disability a fulfilling experience. However, we will not be able reach our goal without the support of our community.

We at AbiliTrek have created a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo; please check out our Indiegogo Campaign and help us reach our goal! For anyone who donates to our campaign, we will thank them by providing early access to the AbiliTrek app with the potential of receiving other tangible and service items as well!

I also ask that you spread the word. Please tell your friends and family about our service; please share our Indiegogo campaign; and, please pass on the word that there is a need to improve the travel industry and accessibility -- in general -- for people with disabilities.

Contact Daman Wandke
(888) 625-2010 x501


Buy Tickets - Become a Sponsor

2018 GALA

October 25, 2018

1775 Tysons Boulevard, Tysons Corner, VA

Thank you


Northrop Grumman



audioeye  Concepts - Passion, Creativity, Results


  Dinah F. Cohen Consulting, LLC

Northrop GrummaneSSENTIAL Accessibility EY Building a better working world

Gallaudet University General Dynamics

JBG Smith Lockheed Martin

In-Kind Sponsors

Herson Family Vineyards TCS Interpreting TCS Associates

Table of Contents

DC Metro BLN Events


Don't miss this session! Attend in person or virtually!

6th Annual Accessibility, Accommodations and Assistive Technology (AAAT) Forum and Expo

April 12, 2018                                                                                    8:30-1:30 


2941Fairview Park Drive, Suite 100 Falls Church, VA 22041

The AAAT Forum will present top strategies for supporting your organization's accessibility journey.  We will offer best practices, discuss recent court cases and upcoming changes to regulations and interactive dialog with subject matter experts and experience Vendor demonstrations.

Eve Hill

Keynote: Eve Hill

The Legal Landscape on Accessibility

Eve Hill is a Partner at the law firm of Brown Goldstein & Levy and a Principal with Inclusivity Strategic Consulting. She is a nationally known disability rights advocate and expert on disability and civil rights law. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Hill was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she was a member of the Civil Rights Division’s leadership team and was responsible for oversight of the Division’s disability rights enforcement, educational civil rights enforcement, Title VI interagency coordination and the American Indian Working Group. Highlights of Ms. Hill’s work at the Department include participating as part of the negotiating team for the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled; filing briefs and developing guidance supporting the rights of refugees, limited English proficient students, and transgender students; testifying before Senate Committees; enforcing ADA requirements for websites and other digital technology; implementing Olmstead community integration requirements in residential, employment and education settings; and enforcing civil rights in education, law enforcement, employment, public services, and health care contexts.

Keynote: Lou Orslene, Co-Director, Job Accommodation Network
 The Mobile Accommodation Solution 

Looking for mobile tools to develop a workplace more inclusive of people with disabilities? Consider embracing the new, FREE Mobile Accommodation Solution (MAS) App. The App contains many best accommodation practices and interactive forms for successfully accommodating people with disabilities.  Lou Orslene, MAS App Project Director, will speak of the Apps development as well as its usage in creating inclusive workplaces while providing a demo.

Expert Accessibility Panelists include:

                                   Mark Penicook

Dan Ellerman, Accenture                         Mark Penicook, Capital One 

  The DC Metro BLN showcases leading technology vendors including 

AudioEye, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, eSSENTIAL Accessibility, among others.

Check out all upcoming DC Metro BLN programs on our website! 

Registration is open for:

7th Annual Wounded Warrior Symposium 

June 27, 2018

Hosted by:



Part 1: How to Get More Applicants with DisabilitiesFind the Hidden Obstacles in Your Recruiting Pipeline

The Sierra Group - Disability and Employment Leaders

Janet Fiore

Janet Fiore, CEO, The Sierra Group

Certified Disability Recruiter Training

Join the DC Metro BLN for a two-part webinar featuring Janet Fiore, a long time friend and widely acknowledged disability subject matter expert for the next two webinars in our Disability@Work Series. In Part One, attendees will learn: 

How to examine your recruiting materials for accessibility
How to enhance your corporate appeal to applicants with disabilities
How to implement best practices to meet and exceed Federal guidelines
How to focus all levels of HR, recruiter, and manager on accessibility goals


March 28, 2018                                                                        12:00 - 1:00 pm EST

Part 2: How to Ensure a Great Accessible Interview!

 April 18, 2018                                                                   12:00 - 1:00 pm EST



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

Join the DC Metro BLN Gala Committee!

The DC Metro BLN's 4th Annual Gala is October 25, 2018 and planning is underway! Once again being held at EY's beautiful new space overlooking Tysons Corner, our committee has just formed and we are looking for volunteers. If you have experience in event planning or just want to contribute your ideas, please contact us. The committee meets monthly by conference call and we are seeking ideas on keynote as well as support in building our famous Live Auction items. Join us for our March Call!

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.  

Log on to join the discussion!

In the News - Articles of Interest

CBS News Spotlight on Neurodiversity in the Workplace

A recent feature on CBS News' "Sunday Morning" television news magazine program shined a light on companies - among them tech giants Microsoft and SAP - that are realizing the benefits of workplace neurodiversity and developing programs to proactively recruit, hire and retain people on the autism spectrum. Among the strategies highlighted were task-based interviews, soft skills training and workplace mentoring. "There really is, and was, a lot of data on the table that said to us that we were missing out," said Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jennie Lay-Flurrie, who was interviewed for the segment. "We were missing out on an opportunity to bring talent in with autism." Watch or read the segment.

House Passes Bill to Amend Title III of the ADA In Attempt to Curb Drive-By Lawsuits

By Minh N. Vu, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Seyfarth Synopsis:  HR 620 requires potential plaintiffs to provide businesses with notice of architectural barriers and give them an opportunity to remove them before filing suit. 

On February 15, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620) by a vote of 225 to 192, with 12 Democrats voting for the bill.  As we recently reported , the number of ADA Title III lawsuits has risen dramatically in the past four years.  HR 620 is primarily an attempt to stem the tide of lawsuits brought by serial plaintiffs who bring dozens, if not hundreds, of lawsuits against businesses based on relatively minor physical access barriers found in their facilities for quick settlements.

HR 620 requires a would-be plaintiff to send the business a pre-suit notice that specifies (1) the alleged barriers in the facility, with a citation of the section of the ADA that has been violated; (2) “the circumstances under which the individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation;” and (3) whether a “request for assistance in removing the barrier was made.”  A lawsuit can only be filed after sending this notice if the business does not respond within 60 days with a description of the improvements that it will make to remove the barrier.  If the business responds as required, but fails to remove the barrier or make “substantial progress” toward removing the barrier within 120 days, a lawsuit can be filed.  HR 620 also requires the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop a program to educate state and local governments and property owners about the ADA’s requirements, and directs the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop a model program to promote the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (including a stay of discovery during mediation – similar in concept to what some courts already require by local rule, such as in the Northern District of California) to facilitate early resolution rather than litigation  of ADA claims based on alleged architectural barriers.

Supporters of the bill say that — because there are so many technical requirements that businesses can violate unknowingly (e.g., the toilet paper roll is half an inch too far away from the toilet, or the mirror is 1” too high) — providing businesses with notice and an opportunity to remove barriers is a good thing and does exactly what the law was designed to do — make businesses accessible.  Opponents say that the amendment will cause businesses to sit back and take no action to comply with the law until they receive a notice.  In addition, they claim that attorneys will be reluctant to take on these cases because there is no chance to receive a fee award by a court if a business does in fact remove the barriers identified in the notice.

Whether HR 620 (or some form of it) will ever become law remains to be seen, as the Senate has taken little action on this issue.  That said, HR 620 is the most significant development thus far in the effort to deter serial ADA lawsuit filers and may provide some momentum for legislative reform.

National Organization on Disability

Shared Practices of High Achieving Companies 

Recently, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) analyzed the results of its 2017 Disability Employment Tracker to determine what companies with an above average percentage of employees with disabilities have in common. The assessment distilled key policies and practices in five areas: strategy and metrics, climate and culture, recruiter training, people practices, and workplace and technology. The Tracker is a confidential, annual survey of corporate disability inclusion policies and practices, and the 2017 results represent 175 companies that together employ more than 10 million workers. Read the NOD report.

Veterans Corner

U.S. Department of Labor Hire Vets Medallions awards

Employers: HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration(link is external)

The Department of Labor is establishing this program under the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act, or HIRE Vets Act. This year’s demonstration is designed to conduct a test of the application, review, and award processes for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which will launch in 2019. Small, medium, and large employers are encouraged to apply by April 30, 2018; up to 300 will be recognized for their investments in recruiting, employing, and retaining our nation’s veterans.


The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to recognize the following supporters who have joined forces to make our 2018 Summer Internship Program possible:

  • Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia
  • Arconic Foundation
  • AT&T
  • Centene Corporation
  • The Coca-Cola Foundation
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
  • Walmart

“We are grateful to have this level of support from so many committed partners,” said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. “Thanks to their generous support, we have more than tripled the size of the program since 2015 to welcome 27 students as part of our 2018 Summer Internship Program class."

AAPD’s Summer Internship Program provides the opportunity for students with disabilities to gain hands-on professional experience that will help advance their career goals. Through the Summer Internship Program, AAPD seeks to give a class of students with disabilities the skills, resources, and networks they need to not only become employed, but to be employed in meaningful and high-level positions. Our Summer Internship Program engages students and recent graduates with disabilities from all across the United States. Because we cover the costs of travel and housing, in addition to providing a living stipend, we are able to recruit a diverse class of interns that may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in a program like ours. For many of these young people, participating in AAPD’s Summer Internship Program is their first exposure to the broader disability community, which empowers them to be self-advocates and sets them on a path to employment.

In addition to placing each intern on Capitol Hill, in government agencies, national nonprofit organizations, or the private sector, AAPD also matches each intern with a mentor connected to the disability community. The AAPD Summer Internship Program is unique and effective because we offer a comprehensive experience that goes beyond the normal 9-to-5 intern work week. Outside of internship hours, and an intensive week-long orientation, AAPD educates our interns on the history of the disability rights movement and the challenges our community still faces. The interns also have numerous opportunities to participate in social and professional networking events.

There are several new and exciting additions to the 2018 Summer Internship Program that are described below. None of these opportunities would be possible without the generous contributions from our 2018 program funders.


Disability Statistics Compendium
Annual Disability Statistics Compendium Release

The Annual Disability Statistics Compendium for 2017 was released in February. This web-based tool pools disability statistics published by various federal agencies to make finding and using such data - including related to employment of people with disabilities - easier for policymakers and other stakeholders. The report is compiled by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics, which is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research and managed by the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability. Access the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Resource Provides Guidance on Inclusive Internship Opportunities

To help employers ensure their internship opportunities are open to all qualified candidates, including those with disabilities, ODEP offers “Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers.” This easy-to-use resource discusses the value of internships to both intern and employer alike. It also provides practical information on workplace accommodations for interns with disabilities and resources such as sample position descriptions and self-assessment and evaluation forms.

 Read “Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers”

WRP - Workforce Recruitment Program.
Workforce Recruitment Program

It may still be winter across much of the country, but many employers are already planning for the warmer months ahead. Those planning to host summer interns are reminded that the 2018 Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) can assist them in sourcing highly qualified candidates. The WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal agencies with pre-screened college students and recent graduates with disabilities seeking internships or permanent jobs. It can also be used - free of charge - by private-sector employers seeking to bring new talent into the workplace. Participants in the WRP range from freshmen to graduate and law students. Learn more about the WRP for federal or private employers.

EARN - Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion                              PEAT - Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

Website Accessibility Top 10

Recently, EARN collaborated with the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) to develop a new resource, "10 Tips for an Accessible Website." Given that one in five Americans has a disability and one in eight is over age 65, inaccessible websites can cause a business to lose out on potential job candidates or customers. People with different disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, access websites in different ways. These strategies can help ensure all are "virtually welcome," regardless of their vision or hearing level, whether they use a mouse or keyboard commands, or how they process information. Read "10 Tips for an Accessible Website."

Upcoming Events in the Area and Beyond 



nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series

Register for the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 12 Noon EST.

Join us for our monthly webinar detailing findings of the latest Jobs Report release, announcements from the Disability Employment field, and a guest presentation by Nadia Ibrahim, Senior Policy Advisor & Federal Lead on the State Exchange on Employment and Dis-ability (SEED), Robert “Bobby” Silverstein, SEED Team Member & Principal - Government Relations/Legislative, Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC, and Richard Davis, Policy Advisor, Office of Disability Employment, U.S. Department of Labor.

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference

33rd CSUN Conference

March 19 to March 23, 2018 
Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel 
San Diego, CA 92101

Register to attend

Brave in the letters with people behind it.

Register as a resource fair participant for:

Brave in the Attempt: Transform

June 6, 2018

5:00-9:00 p.m.

Towson University

We are currently seeking participants to staff tables representing their organizations before and during the event.


Brave in the Attempt uses a personal story telling platform to encourage those with disabilities to serve as mentors and role models for others. This event is FREE and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served following the presentations.

Email Carrie McGraw at carrie.mcgraw@maryland.gov or 410.767.3660 by May 1st to reserve a table.  Space is limited and will be assigned as requested until filled.

Direct sales prohibited at the event.

Save the date! Tickets for the event will be available soon.


M-Enabling Summit Promoting Accessible Technologies and Environments.

M-Enabling Summit 2018

June 11-13, 2018                                                                    Washington, DC

The M-Enabling Summit Conference and Showcase is dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive technology for seniors and people with disabilities. It is an annual meeting place for all who create and contribute accessible products, services, and consumer technologies. The Summit will provide a platform for empowering technologies and focus on next-generation innovations and breakthroughs for people with disabilities.

National ADA Symposium

National ADA Symposium

June 17 - 20, 2018                                                               Pittsburgh, PA

This ADA National Network (ADANN) conference provides the latest information on ADA regulations and guidelines, implementation strategies, and best practices. The Symposium offers a comprehensive agenda, with sessions on a wide range of ADA topics. Join us!

Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

Save the Date! 

Mid-Atlantic ADA Update 

September 4 - 6, 2018 

Sheraton Tysons Hotel, Tysons Corner, Virginia

Disability Entrepreneurship Network 

NEXGEN: Transforming Disability Inclusion for Entrepreneur Success 

Powered by DC Metro BLN and Deaf Entrepreneurship Network

Gallaudet University

September 20-22, 2018

The DCBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program welcomes Roxanne Wilson, Supplier DIversity Manager, Fannie Mae. 

Fannie Mae

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!  Registration and Sponsorship Opportunities Coming Soon!

Interested in presenting? Contact us!

Committee Co-Chairs

                   The Resource NetworkDEN - Deaf Entrepreneur Network

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

Breaking News: 

Ted Kennedy Jr. 

will be announcing the 

2018 Disability Equality Index

"Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion"

Ted Kennedy Jr.

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Deputy Majority Leader, 

Connecticut State Senate

 Board Chair, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

"The Disability Equality Index (DEI) has quickly emerged as the nation's leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. 

As a cancer survivor, amputee and life-long advocate for people with disabilities, I want to recognize organizations that have made employment and accessibility among their top strategic priorities. 

These companies know that disability inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but produces measurable results to their bottom lines." 

Read Ted Kennedy, Jr.'s bio here

Register Now

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

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 (Chair, Accessibility Committee)
  • Bob Vetere, Northrop Grumman 
  • Myra Wilder, Marriott International
  • Emily Yee, Deloitte

Advisory Board

  • Dinah Cohen, Dinah Cohen Consulting, LLC 
  • 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.
  • Bryan Moseley, TCS Associates
  • Chrissone Palmer, EY
  • Rick Rogers, The Resource Network (Co-Chair DSDP Committee)
  • Carrie Schroeder, PwC
  • Jenn Sharp, KPMG
  • Kia Silver Hodge, SME-C5 Consulting, LLC
  • Sue Werber, SME -C5 Consulting, LLC (Chair, ME Committee)

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

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