DC Metro Business
Leadership Network


Monthly Newsletter: April 2016


Early Bird Registration is NOW OPEN!

September 19-22, 2016 

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

Early bird pricing is in effect until 5 p.m. EST on April 25, 2016. The conference will sell out fast so register today.


The USBLN has opened registration for "Disability Inclusion: The Future Redefined" its 19 Annual Conference and Biz2Biz 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 is the only business to business NATIONAL membership organization, with local affiliates, that focuses on sharing and developing proven strategies for including people with disabilities in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace.

This premier event provides the best and brightest in disability inclusion with cutting-edge educational sessions, enhanced networking, exciting interactive programming plus high-profile speakers. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Workplace: Gain information, resources and business connections that will help advance disability inclusion policies and practices. These sessions will focus on creating an inclusive workplace, effective outreach, recruitment and retention strategies, and addressing hidden biases. Learn how to help others in your organization understand this business imperative through the creation and development of business-focused disability resource affinity groups and much more.

Marketplace: Discover key trends, strategies and dynamic practices on how to effectively market to consumers with disabilities. Find out how to tap into a customer base with $220 billion in spendable, discretionary income.

Supply Chain: Learn how disability-owned businesses including firms owned by service-disabled veterans can enhance supplier diversity programs and diversity and inclusion efforts in public and private sectors. Gain business case rationale and begin identifying and connecting with potential suppliers among the certified businesses in attendance. Certified businesses, including those owned by service-disabled veterans, will learn about current trends in supply chain management and supplier selection criteria. Business to business networking and relationship-building opportunities will be plentiful.

Professional Development: Are you a professional with a disability interested in accelerating your growth and leadership opportunities? Engage with and learn from global leaders with disabilities, to confidently bring your whole self to the workplace, and the ways in which to enhance career progression.

Leadership Academy: Targets college students and recent graduates with disabilities, including those with veteran status, and provides two days of pre-conference skills building leadership development and networking activities in addition to the full conference sessions. Meet and interact with potential employers in your field of study or area of interest in a professional and energizing setting. Businesses in attendance will have the opportunity to engage with the rising leaders through interactive development workshops, facilitated networking and matchmaking sessions, resume-building activities and more.

Table of Contents

                            Disability@Work                                 FREE National Webinar Series Continues

"Understanding Autism from the Parent and Employer Perspective"

March 30, 2016                                                                                        11:30am – 1:00pm ET


Speaker: Derek Volk, President, Volk Packaging Corporation

Author "Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad's Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum."

 MEBLN Member  

In this webinar Derek Volk, author of Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum, will share his thoughts and experiences as both the father of a young adult with autism and also as an employer of people on the autism spectrum.  Derek’s son, Dylan, is 24 years old and has been fired over 30 times.  Derek will talk about the struggles watching his son try to find gainful employment, why Dylan has lost so many jobs, what he thinks needs to change for society to embrace people on the spectrum and what he has done to be a good place to work for his own employees on the spectrum. 

About the Speaker: 

Derek Volk is a Maine businessman, supporter of Autism awareness, volunteer, philanthropist, softball coach, and he can now add book author to the list. He is currently the president and co-owner of Volk Packaging Corporation, a third generation, family owned, corrugated box manufacturer in Biddeford, Maine. Derek actively participates on the Maine Business Leadership Network (BLN), a national organization that focuses on connecting employers with employees who have disabilities. His own company currently employs those who are deaf, blind and on the Autism Spectrum.

2016 Programs


“Missteps Matter: Strategies for Effectively Navigating the Interactive Process” 

Anne Hirsh, Co-Director, The Job Accommodation Network

April 28, 2016                                                                                                 8:30 am  - 12:00 pm

1919 North Lynn Street  Arlington, VA 22209


An actionable reasonable accommodation policy and robust interactive process are keys to creating an inclusive workplace and meeting the requirements of the ADA. Having an effective process increases response time for completing accommodation requests, reduces confidentiality breaches, and brings objectivity to request fulfillment. While there is not one perfect process, some strategies are more effective than others in instilling confidence in the process and achieving positive outcomes for everyone involved. During this session, Anne Hirsh, Co-Director at the Job Accommodation Network, will use video vignettes to analyze simulated interactive process missteps and demonstrate effective reasonable accommodation practices that drive inclusion, reduce risk, and improve compliance.


"Annual Assistive Technology and Accommodations Symposium"

May 5, 2016                                                                                                     8:30 am  - 12:00 pm

Sponsored By:

eSSENTIAL Accessibility logo



                                                   National Youth Transition Center

                                              2013 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

Join us for our third annual AT event! This year we will hear from Simon Dermer, Co-founder, at eSSENTIAL Accessibility and two local organizations who will discuss their focus on assistive technologies and accommodations. One half of the programming will offer in depth discussion and demonstrations from assistive technology vendors- come and see the latest!

"Talent Acquisition:

Building Successful Community Partner Pipelines"

May 11, 2016                                                                                                   8:30 am  - 12:00 pm

Sponsored By:

The Arc Northern Virginia logo


                                                 4401 Ford Ave., Alexandria, VA

Relationships Matter!

Employers: Are you searching for a strong pipeline for talent with disabilities?

Employment Providers: Are you looking for ways to improve or build new relationships with employers eager to hire candidates?

Across the United States, the Employer community acknowledges a lack of understanding on where to find talent while the Employment Provider community often struggles on how to access employers to place talent. In this seminar, we will explore the myths, challenges and best practices associated with building relationships that result in successful careers and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. 

This seminar is made possible by a grant from the Alexandria Fund for Human Services.


 "5th Annual Wounded Warrior Symposium"

July 27, 2016                                                                                                  8:30 am  - 12:00 pm


Hosted By:

11955 Freedom Drive, Reston, VA 20190


"Barriers to Inclusion: Micro-inequities" 

August 17, 2016                                                                                          8:30 am  - 12:00 pm 

Hosted By:

Join or "Up" Your Membership Today

                        WHY BECOME A MEMBER OF THE DC METRO BLN

Even if you have never purposely hired a person with a disability, at the DC Metro BLN you can learn how to recruit this talent as productive workers and also retain employees in your workforce who either have non-apparent disabilities or will most likely develop a disability while employed at your company. All our events are open to the public.

Employers join BLNs because they want an opportunity to engage with like-minded businesses to learn how to progress in the journey toward inclusion of diverse talent who happen to have disabilities (including returning Veterans).

Membership is open to both private, non-profit and government sectors and gears its programs and resources to the needs of human resources professionals, diversity and inclusion officers and EEOC directors. The OFCCP changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act make membership in BLN an excellent opportunity to stay abreast of the latest information with monthly topical programming and the opportunity to network and learn from other members. Members receive a 50% discount for program registration and receive discounted registration for other events including webinars and career fairs.

Employers gain several branding advantages with logo and links to their websites from the DC Metro BLN site: attract retain a workforce that includes individuals with disabilities, disabled veterans and wounded warriors and their friends and family; attract the same population as customers; be recognized in the community in which they do business.

Join Today!

                                          TWO YEAR EXECUTIVE MEMBERSHIPS


Premier Recognition as a Platinum Member on our Website, in all 12 Newsletters and at All Programs. Your business  will be prominently displayed in all our social media. As a Platinum Member, your employees attend all programs at no additional cost and your designee may join the DC Metro BLN Corporate Advisory Board.


Recognition as a Lead Employer on our Website, in all 12 Newsletters and at All Programs. Your business  will be prominently displayed in all our social media. Five free passes per year to a monthly program!. As a Diamond Member, your designee may join the DC Metro BLN Corporate Advisory Board.


Recognition as a Lead Employer on our Website and for Six Newsletter Issues and six programs.

Each Executive Membership Level includes TWO full years of business membership (unlimited # of employees per organization). 

(Executive Membership is open to private sector corporate members only)


  • Corporate/Organizational
  • Small Business
  • Non-Profit
  • Government
  • Individual

Need to Renew? 

Want to “Up” Your Membership Level or need an Invoice? Email us.


Our Newest Gold Member!

Thank you to Our Executive Members 

Concepts, Inc. logo

Leidos logo

Articles of Interest

Facebook Taps Artificial Intelligence

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Matt King, a software engineer who has been blind since college, came to Facebook last summer with a mission: to make websites and mobile apps friendlier for people like him with disabilities.

King, 50, uses screen-reader software that turns Web pages and documents into synthesized speech. The challenge he confronts every day: As many as half of websites are nearly impossible for him to browse.

"There are not many products out there where you can say — actually it's hard to name any — that the experience of using them as a person with a disability is as good as it would be if you didn't have a disability," says King who is part of a team at Facebook that focuses on accessibility, such as providing closed captions for videos and keyboard shortcuts for people who can't use a computer mouse.

Accessibility is a major problem that looms larger as the world's population grows and ages and as more of everyday life — applying for college or jobs, making a major purchase, getting health information — happens online.

Websites are too seldom built with people with disabilities in mind. But increasingly, tech giants from Microsoft to Yahoo are focusing on making technology more accessible to everyone.

A major push is underway to add accessibility curriculum to computer science programs and to educate software developers on how to build sites and apps that don't shut out people with disabilities, whether they use screen readers, mouth-controlled joysticks, closed captioning or eye-tracking technology.

"There is certainly more of an interest in just the last five years from these big companies in Silicon Valley," said Geoff Freed, director of technology projects and Web media standards for the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media.

How Do Your Self ID Rates Measure Up?

Seeing Eye Phone

 Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/apple-iphone-voiceover-technology-for-the-blind/

Luis Perez carefully frames his photo to get the best shot for Instagram.

Gripping his white cane in one hand and his iPhone in the other, Perez squints at the screen and points the display toward the sunset. His iPhone speaks: "One face. Small face. Face near top left edge."

Perez snaps several photos and then puts his iPhone back in his pocket, with plans to examine the images later.

Taking sunset pictures with an iPhone is nothing remarkable -- until you consider that Perez, a 44-year-old who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, is legally blind. Not being able to clearly see the photos he's taking doesn't slow him down. By using technology built into the iPhone, along with apps from the App Store, Perez has developed quite a photography habit.

"My [remaining] time with vision is limited," says Perez, who began losing his sight about 15 years ago from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease. He now sees only a small circle of what's directly in front of him, and that will deteriorate over the next few years. "I have to enjoy it as much as I can, and photography is part of that."

In the past, visually impaired people had to shell out thousands of dollars for technology that magnified their computer screens, spoke navigation directions, identified their money and recognized the color of their clothes. Today, users only need smartphones and a handful of apps and accessories to help them get through their physical and online worlds. Most often, the mobile device of choice is the Apple iPhone.

One big reason for that preference? VoiceOver, the screen-reading technology that's been part of the iOS mobile operating system since 2009 with the iPhone 3GS

VoiceOver first turns off the iPhone's single-tap function on the display. After that, users can move their fingers across the screen to hear what's on the display. That could be anything from the names of the apps themselves to words in an email, a text message or a social media post. When users turn on the "Speak Hints" function, VoiceOver will say what an app is and then give instructions for using it. Users can even adjust the voice's speaking rate and pitch.

While many companies "are doing a lot of good things, Apple is really far and away [the best] in terms of accessibility," says Scott Blanks, senior director of programs at LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco. Blanks has been blind since birth.

Lay of the land

By itself, VoiceOver makes it easier for people with limited sight to use their iPhones. But the technology really comes into its own when mobile apps hook into its features. BlindSquare, which talks to users as they walk along crowded city streets and inside busy shopping malls, is a great example.

In addition to VoiceOver, the mobile app taps into the iPhone's built-in GPS, FourSquare -- which knows local landmarks and surrounding areas -- and a crowdsourced map of the world. That combination allows BlindSquare to speak names of landmarks, such as cafes, shops and libraries, as the user walks by. Shaking the iPhone prompts BlindSquare to say the current address and nearest intersection. It will even, for example, tell the user that the entry to her destination has "four doors, two of which are automated, and there's a second set of doors after the vestibule."

"Twenty years ago, there's no way we'd be able to walk on our own to find a restaurant," says Kevin Satizabal, a blind musician and an online communities assistant for the Royal London Society for Blind People. "That's the great thing about technology. It's letting people blend in and do everyday tasks with a lot greater ease."

Plays well with others

Other accessibility apps for the iPhone include the LookTel Money Reader to quickly identify more than 20 currencies and their denominations; Voice Dream reads out text from Web pages, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and other files. The Be My Eyes app lets blind users video chat with sighted volunteers for things like distinguishing between two cans of soup. KNFB Reader pulls text from photos taken with the iPhone.

But it's not just purpose-built apps for the blind that tap into the iPhone's assistive technology. Many people say some mainstream apps -- such as Twitter and Periscope for social media and Uber and Lyft for ride-booking services -- have well-designed accessibility, too.

"What I really get excited about are all these mainstream apps," says Blanks. "That's what really makes me feel part of society."

Blanks' sentiment would likely have pleased Apple's late co-founder, Steve Jobs, who famously said "it just works" when talking about his company's products.

"We consider accessibility an integral part of what we build into our technology, not an add-on," says Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives. "It's a basic human right."

Almost there

Apple's device isn't the only smartphone to have accessibility features. Google's Android software also has text-to-speech and screen-reading features for phone makers to use. Microsoft, working with Guide Dogs UK, has developed a wearable system that creates a "3D soundscape" similar to BlindSquare.

But not all apps are created equal. Some lose their assistive benefits after being updated. Others add the features as an afterthought, instead of from the get-go.

Lisamaria Martinez, a blind woman who lives in Union City, California, likes a parenting app that explains her baby's milestones. But the app presents the information in an image of text, not text on its own. That means VoiceOver doesn't work. To get around it, Martinez takes a screenshot of the images, uses another app to pull the text out of the image and then translates the text into speech.

"It's super annoying," says Martinez, who works with Blanks at LightHouse. "The problem is people don't think about accessibility from the design stage."

That's what LightHouse and other advocacy groups want to change.

"With the right support, we can do a lot of things that people didn't think we could do," says Perez, the avid photographer who also teaches people to use technology."

       Deputy Secretary of Labor Announces Tool to Help Employers Make eRecruiting Technology Accessible

The ODEP-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) launched TalentWorks, a free online tool to help employers and human resources professionals ensure their online job applications and other eRecruiting technologies are accessible to job seekers with disabilities. The tool—which provides general background on accessibility and eRecruiting, as well as practical tip sheets for making online job applications, digital interviews, pre-employment tests, and resume upload programs accessible—was unveiled by Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu during his keynote address at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego.

• Read the TalentWorks press release 
• Access TalentWorks

Post-9/11 Veteran Employment

2015 was the best year for post-9/11 veteran employment — and it's not even close

The annual unemployment rate for the latest generation of veterans in 2015 was the lowest ever recorded — by far, government statistics indicate.

Post-9/11 veterans charted an average unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for the year, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released today, down significantly from the 7.2 percent posted last year.

Not only is the annual rate for 2015 significantly lower than any other annual rate in the group's history, it's also lower than all but a few of the pre-2015 monthly unemployment rates, which are volatile and prone to dramatic increases and decreases.

Veteran employment experts attributed the employment gains to an improving economy, combined with an intense focus on the issue from public and private sectors alike. Still, they emphasized that there is work left to do.

"That doesn't mean it's time for a victory lap or anything like that," said Ryan Gallucci, Veterans of Foreign Wars deputy director for national veterans service.

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has been on a wild ride since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to track it in September 2008.

Read the Article:  Military Times


We are happy to publish newsworthy articles that address the business perspective of disability issues.

Share your news via email kmccary@dcmetrobln.org for the

May 2016 Newsletter no later than April 25, 2016

Upcoming Events in the DC Metro Area & Beyond

The second nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar is on Friday, April 1, 2016 at 12 Noon EST.

On the first Friday of every month, corresponding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, we will be offering a live broadcast via Zoom Webinar to share the results of the latest nTIDE findings. In addition, we will provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host an invited panelist who will discuss current disability related findings and events


                    PEAT Webinar: e-Recruiter Tools           

April 21, 2016  2:00PM

Please join our PEAT Talk on Thursday, April 21 at 2pm ET. We are pleased to welcome Denis Boudreau, senior web accessibility consultant for Simply Accessible.Denis will be talking about why accessible eRecruiting tools make sense and the simple steps that web developers and designers can take to ensure that job seekers with disabilities are not excluded from employment opportunities

The ODEP-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) launched TalentWorks, a free online tool to help employers and human resources professionals ensure their online job applications and other eRecruiting technologies are accessible to job seekers with disabilities. The tool—which provides general background on accessibility and eRecruiting, as well as practical tip sheets for making online job applications, digital interviews, pre-employment tests, and resume upload programs accessible—was unveiled by Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu during his keynote address at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego.

Read the TalentWorks press release 
Access TalentWorks


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. Featured speakers will deliver a 10- to 15- minute talk and then field questions from attendees. To see upcoming events in this series, please visit our calendar.

 GettingHired April Webinar for Job Seekers

                                       Returning to Work While Maintaining Disability Benefits

                                                Getting Hired logo

                                                          Monday, April 4,12:00 pm (ET)  


Maryland Work Incentives Network, part of Independence Now, Inc. will explain what work incentives there are for those receiving SSI or SSDI including maintaining their disability benefits while returning to work. Although there are state variations, the general information and resources will be beneficial to those receiving disability benefits nationwide.

For all those who shared the previous webinar ‘Making Decisions about Disability Disclosure’- thank you! You can find the recorded webinar on our YouTube channel (with captioning) so feel free to watch and/ or share with anyone who may find it useful.

            Mid-Atlantic ADA Center           

ADA IN Focus Webinar Series

Accommodating Employees with Allergies: Situations and Solutions

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Building a Digital Accessibility Program Registration Open!
Presented by Beth Crutchfield, VP of Policy & Program Services, SSB BART Group

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model: Enabling Accessibility Operations Registration Open!
Presented by Bill Curtis-Davidson, Senior Director of Policy & Program Services, SSB BART Group

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions about the ADA and Alternate Modes of Transportation Registration Open!
Presented by Julie Dupree, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, Ken Thompson, ADA Technical Assistance Coordinator, and Donna Smith, Senior Director, Easter Seals Project Action


ADA In Focus Virginia

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa - Short Pump

12042 West Broad Street Richmond, VA 23233

A one-day conference on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) presented by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Morning plenary panel session featuring speakers from Federal Agencies:

U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Access Board
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Transit Administration

Afternoon breakout session topics including:

Employment - Title I
Access and Design
State and Local Government - Tille II

Pre-Conference Session: ADA Overview on Monday afternoon, May 9: No Additional Cost

Registration will be available in early March.

To receive notice of registration availability, send a message to: ADATraining@transcen.org.

Mid-Atlantic ADA Update  

23rd Annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update

Wednesday, September 14 and Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Location This Year:

Hilton Baltimore

401 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Update is the region's leading conference on the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This year's conference features:

Federal Agency Panel with representatives from:
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • United States Access Board    
  • Federal Transit Administration   
20 Breakout Sessions on a variety of topics
    Keynote Speaker on September 14
    Chris Kuczynski, Assistant Legal Counsel, ADA/GINA Policy Division, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
      Pre-Conference Session "ADA Overview" - Tuesday, September 13- No additional charge!

        To receive notice of registration availability, emailADATraining@transcen.org.

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        National ILG Conference  

        Save the Date! August 2-5, 2016

         "First in Flight: Soaring to New Heights in Compliance"

        Announcing two of our exciting Keynote Speakers: Randy Lewis, Founder of the NOGWOG Disability Initiative and retired Walgreens Senior Vice President of Supply Chain & Logistics and Susan Taylor, Founder & CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement & Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine.

            Randy Lewis 

        Randy Lewis is the Founder of NOGWOG Disability read more
                susan taylor 

        Susan Taylor is the Founder & CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement read more

        Register today to confirm your attendance  at one of the most prestigious events for EEO/AA professionals! 

        National Industry Liaison Group is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM.

        This program will be submitted to the HR Certification Institute for review. Application for CLE of this program is currently pending.

        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.

        Myra Wilder, Chair

        Marriott International

        Andrea Hall, Vice Chair


        Mirelle King, Secretary

        Lockheed Martin

        Ellen de Bremond, Treasurer

        The Choice, Inc.


        • Michelle Crabtree, Hyatt 
        • Donnielle DeMesme, Golden Key Group
        • Dan Ellerman, Northrop Grumman
        • Denyse Gordon, CACI
        • Anna Irani, EY
        • Patricia Jackson, Booz Allen Hamilton
        • Eduardo Meza-Etienne, eSSENTIAL Accessibility
        • Jacqui Winters, Deloitte & Touche

        Advisory Board

        • Tara Dunlap, General Dynamics
        • Ron Drach, Drach Consulting, LLC (Chair, Wounded Warrior Committee)
        • Charlesiah McLean, Leidos
        • Dan Sullivan, KPMG
        • Jenn Sharp, KPMG
        • Sue Werber, C5 Consulting, LLC (Chair, Youth Committee)
        • Ann Rader, Former NCD
        • Kia Silver Hodge, Lockheed Martin
        • Dinah Cohen, Dinah Cohen Consulting, LLC (CAP Director, retired)
        • Rich Luecking, TransCen (retired)

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

        Copyright © 2016 DC Metro BLN. All rights reserved.
        Contact email: kmccary@dcmetrobln.org
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