Catch up on news and upcoming events from the only business led disability organization serving the DMV! Two webinars in May!

DC Metro Business Leadership Network Monthly Newsletter: May 2017

What's New

By: Eduardo Meza-Etienne, Chair, Accessibility Committee

Digital Accessibility is Hot

The news on accessibility just keeps coming!  It started this year on January 18, 2017 when the U.S. Access Board published a final rule updating the requirements for ICT covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. 

In February the DC Metro BLN hosted a webinar on Fixing the Digital Customer Experience for People with Disabilities. It continued last month with our 5th Annual Accessibility, Accommodations and Assistive Technology Symposium and Expo hosted by Lockheed Martin, with keynote speaker Tim Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist, Information Technology at the U.S. Access Board. He shared his expertise about the latest information on the Section 508 Refresh, when it will take effect and how it will impact the Federal contractor community. If you did not have an opportunity to attend, please contact me to receive a copy of his PowerPoint presentation.

News of growth equity investment in accessibility consulting firms and consolidation in the industry hit social media just in the last few days. 

Please be sure to register for our May 4th Webinar on the Accessibility Switchboard, a project that came about due to the need to provide easy-to-digest introductions for newcomers to topics relating to website accessibility, management and implementation of accessibility programs, dealing with work environment issues, the procurement of IT, responding to legal issues, and more. 

Eduardo Meza-Etienne, CPACC, MSc, MIM | Director of Compliance

eSSENTIAL Accessibility Inc.

 60 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 802

Toronto ON  M4T 1N5

T: 301.830.8284
C: 240.457.8046

Table of Contents

Webinar Announcements

May 4 Webinar

Accessibility Switchboard

Accessibility Switchboard
1:00 - 2:30 pm ET

In Spring 2017, the Accessibility Switchboard website went live. The resource site is a new connection portal for businesses and consumers. The site connects people by providing introductions to accessibility concepts, introducing case studies of successful practices, giving practical step-by-step guidance, and giving annotated links to publications that examine key topics in-depth.

The Switchboard project came about because of the need to provide easy-to-digest introductions for newcomers to topics relating to website accessibility, management and implementation of accessibility programs, dealing with work environment issues, the procurement of IT, responding to legal issues, and more.

Designed to expand over time, the Switchboard has been set up to easily include new audiences. In the first year of development, the development team focused on the needs of businesspersons working on the technical side of IT accessibility, as well as consumers with disabilities who are struggling to deal with IT accessibility problems. We believe that an additional audience need should be addressed, and can be incorporated as an expansion to the content. In our field there are two separate but overlapping ‘camps’: those who focus on IT accessibility issues; and those who focus on employment equity and diversity issues. It can be easy to become entrenched in one camp and inadvertently overlook the other aspects, making it harder to address accessibility as an organization-wide initiative.

In this webinar, we will introduce the Switchboard site, how it was developed, how the Community of Practice (a 20+ member group of accessibility consultants and other accessibility SMEs) was engaged, and introduce the current content of the site. We will then discuss and solicit feedback from BLN members on the concept of expanding the site by bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical sides of accessibility practices in business.


Chris Law                                      Eduardo Meza-Etienne

                      Chris M. Law                                                 Eduardo Meza-Etienne

     Accessibility Track Consulting, LLC                              eSSENTIAL Accessibility

Due to system capacity, this registration is limited to one connection per registration only.

May 18 Webinar

ACE Assisting Caregiving EmployeesJohn Schall

Presenter: John Schall, CEO


We are pleased to welcome back John Schall, CEO at Caregiver Action Network to address  one of the top concerns of employers who understand that many of their employees are caregivers. Businesses  are seeking ways to support them to retain and help them to remain productive and engaged employees. Over 22 million Americans are working family caregivers – that is one out of five workers. The costs of caregiving to business and industry exceed over $50 billion annually. That is why Caregiver Action Network, in collaboration with Partners on the Path, developed ACE - Assisting Caregiving Employees - to help employers support employees to better manage their caregiving responsibilities.

Costs attributable to working employee caregivers include:

Higher employer-related health care costs, estimated to be $13.4 billion per year to U.S. employers

  •  8% more for caregiving employees overall
  • 11% more for blue-collar caregiver
  • 18% more for male caregivers

Expense of recruiting and retraining new employees to replace caregiving employees, estimated to be $6.6 billion

Productivity costs primarily due to

  • absenteeism ($5.1 billion
  • shifts from full-time to part-time work ($4.8 billion
  • workday interruptions ($6.3 billion)

2017 DC Metro BLN Programs


6th Annual Wounded Warrior Program


June 20, 2017

8:30 am - 12:00 pm

General Dynamics

2491 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA


Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) Invited 


Capital One

Autistic Talent: Recruiting, Interviewing and Retaining Top Talent


July 13, 2017

8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Capital One

1680 Capital One Drive, McLean, VA


Melanie Whetzel

Melanie Whetzel

Cognitive/Neurological Team 

Lou Orlesne

Lou Orslene


Job Accommodation Network


US Business Leadership Network

USBLN 20th Annual Conference


No DC Metro BLN Programming


evolver agents of progressive change

Mental Illness: Stay at Work/return to Work Strategies for Employers


September 12, 2017

8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Evolver, Inc.

1943 Isaac Newton Square E #260, Reston, VA


Anne Hirsh

Anne Hirsh


Job Accommodation Network


DC Metro Business Leadership Network

DC Metro BLN 3rd Annual Gala

Date and Location Pending

No DC Metro BLN Program


4th Annual Federal Updates: ODEP, OFCCP, EEOC, VETS

Host and Date Pending

If you want to host the November program, please contact Katherine McCary. Our programs feature the Host's Disability Leadership, a keynote speaker and a Share Forum. 

If you have suggestions for Webinar Speakers or 2017 Gala Speakers, please let us know!!

2017  Membership

2017 Annual Membership Levels

 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  $175 $65 
 Individual/SHRM  $150 $65 
 Student  $50 $30 

Virtual Program Registration (As Available):          $45

Webinar Attendee:                                                 $25

Webinar Attendee - Member :                                $15

Non-Member:                                                         $125

Effective 2017, Membership Dues may be combined with Gala Sponsorship* for ONE combined annual invoice! Contact us to receive an invoice!

Gala Sponsorships are available

  • Platinum $10,000
  • Diamond $5,000
  • Gold  $2,500
  • Silver $1000
  • Crystal $500

* The 2017 Gala will continue the work of the Millennial Employer Collaborative! Stay tuned for details! Sponsors receive Gala tickets and 2018 Program Passes.

2017 Discussion Board

We are looking for your Opinions and Ideas! 

All members have access to the Discussion Board where they can comment on topics including veterans, accommodations, youth and accessibility. Or add your own topic and start a discussion!

DC Metro BLN Discussion Board

In the News - Articles of Interest

Veterans Corner

Ron Drach
Ron Drach, President, Drach Consulting, LLC


Understanding the Challenges and Creating

Long-Term Opportunities for Veteran Employees


US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

In November 2016 The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released its report VETERANS IN THE WORKPLACE - Understanding the Challenges and Creating Long-Term Opportunities for Veteran Employees. This article represents a summation of that report. To read the entire report go to

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiated the Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) program in March 2011. The HOH is a Chamber nationwide initiative to “help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities”. Some or all of you may be familiar with this program and may be participating.

As part of this effort the Chamber developed an Employer Roadmap ( You must register to use it. There is numerous helpful links on their site.

The report indicates employers top 3 recruiting priorities are: 1. Individuals with higher learning. 80% said this is "Total Important". 2. Women. 81% said this is "Total Important". 3. Military Veterans. 77% said this is "Total Important". This is good news for veterans. It is also good for employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts since veterans are a very diverse population and perhaps the most diverse population ranking with people with disabilities. Regrettably, PWD are NOT listed in the top seven categories. Employers with 1,000 or more employees are saying (90% of HR professionals and hiring managers) “veteran recruitment is important to their businesses.”

HR professionals and hiring managers generally hold veterans in high regard. The top three attributes reported are: disciplined; punctual or timely; and team player. In those top three categories veterans were ranked as % More likely - % Same - % Less likely and here are the respective rankings:

Disciplined                  86%                 13%                 1%

Punctual of timely       77%                 22%                 1%

Team player                 67%                 32%                 1%

As mentioned in the Veterans Talent Index article last month this report also identifies ongoing concern about veterans with Post Traumatic Distress Disorder (PTSD) or as it is referred to in this report Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) which was noted by 22 of 400 respondents.

While this and other reports show positive attitudes and outcomes for veterans’ employment, opportunities exist to make it even better. It is and has been reported that HR professionals are not knowledgeable about military culture. This can be attributable to the small percentage (I have read as low as 1%) of the population that have any connection to the military. This report reveals that only 20% of those responding on a scale of 1 to 10 rank their military knowledge at eight or higher, while 54% say it is 5 or lower.

Most businesses also admit their formal military related training for HR professionals and hiring managers is sparse at best. “More than 80% of HR and recruiting professionals say their companies lack specialized training to help civilian employees and staff relate to veterans.”

Another nearly 70% report they do not have any specialized training to assist with the onboarding process. (I believe that this lack of knowledge for the onboarding process may have a significant impact on employment retention. See the January 2017 and July 2016 articles on retention in the DCBLN newsletters).

Overall 80% of the employers in this report indicate they have no formal training while 9% do provide formal training to assist civilian employees relate to veterans while 69% do not provide specialized assistance to veterans during the onboarding process but 16% do.

An opportunity exists for companies to address this by providing training by using in house expertise contained in their veteran ERG or Affinity group or going to outside contractors with this expertise.

More than half (54%) of the HR professionals and hiring managers say they do not believe there is any negative bias against veterans. Twenty two percent believe if a bias exists it is positive toward the veteran. Another 22% believe veterans face positive and negative bias. One comment in the survey shows that perhaps there is a bias against veterans by their non veteran co-workers: “Sometimes, non veterans in the work place look at veterans as privileged and under qualified people who don’t really deserve to be there…”

 While the general observation would be relatively positive toward veterans, verbatim responses were not quite as positive. Sixty-two percent (of the 22% reporting positive and negative) provided responses that tend to indicate a negative view toward veterans.

“That negativity falls into three categories: (1) veterans are perceived to have PTS or a mental health issue, (2) they are too rigid and lack creativity, and (3) they receive preferential treatment.”

Veterans reported being the target of negative treatment (about 10%) from co-workers, managers and supervisors. I believe this can be attributable at least in part to the aforementioned small percent of the population having any attachment to military service.

“The supervisor feels as if I have PTS, Therefore, I’m not chosen for any training and my condition is also discussed among others in my department without my consent.” (2016 Survey Comment)

From personal experience working with OIF/OEF both wounded and non wounded I have learned that many are unsure of a career path to pursue. This report finds this is the most challenging issue for the veterans in this survey. Sixty-one percent reported “Deciding what career path to pursue” was “Greatest/Very Challenging while 86% listed it as “Total Challenging.”

This is followed by:

Not receiving feedback of any kind from hiring managers 56%/84%

Not having the necessary resources or contacts to find employers in your chosen field 53%/84%

Connecting and networking with hiring managers or employers 52%/84%  

(The above is verbatim from page 11 of the report)

Finding a first job is also challenging and I believe other reports have supported this. According to the HOH report “…nearly 30% found a job prior to or within a month of leaving military service, more than half waited a month or more..And 38% reported a four or more month wait for their first job.”

Previous articles in DCBLN regarding retention reported similar findings as the HOH report in that a certain number of veterans leave their first job within the first year. Both of these earlier reports/articles show that most leave their first job for a better job as their number one reason. The HOH report shows this to be the second most reason (30%) right behind “I accepted a job offer to make ends meet following my transition from the military, but wanted something else.” (31%)

The reasons cited by the veterans who remained on the job are increased pay (65%); a clear path for career growth (55%); increased management opportunities (43%); on the job training opportunities (41%); accelerated leadership training opportunities (36%); special recognition by your employer for military service (25%); employee resource group for veterans (24%); more employees with military experience (24%); and more volunteer activities in the local community (13%).

Female veterans experience more difficulty in finding a job post military than male veterans – 56% of male veterans find their first job within three months while 45% of female veterans find their first job within three months.   

Drach Consulting, LLC is a service disabled veteran owned firm that was established after a successful career that includes 28 years with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and more than 8 years with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).   Ron Drach, President of Drach Consulting, LLC has nearly 50 years experience working on veteran’s issues including employment, affirmative action, vocational rehabilitation, homelessness, transitioning service members, and disability issues. I am available to talk with you about the services Drach Consulting can provide your organization. Drach Consulting, LLC has provided services to 15 clients since October 2010. I can be contacted at or 240-413-3183

Millennials Corner: USBLN Rising Leaders

USBLN Leadership Network 

USBLN is offering The Rising Leadership Academy, a FREE two-day networking and career readiness opportunity that takes place in conjunction with the USBLN Annual Conference, the nation’s premier business-to-business conference on disability inclusion throughout the enterprise.

  • The Academy will take place from August 19th – 24th in Orlando, Florida. Why should I attend?
  • Meet mentors from the Rising Leaders Mentoring Program in person
  • Meet and network with USBLN corporate partners 

If you are a college student or recent graduate with a disability that has questions about transitioning into employment in the business sector, we highly encourage you to apply. The USBLN especially encourages STEM majors, veterans, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students with disabilities to apply. Apply for the Rising Leadership Academy by emailing your resume to Keri Gray ( AND by completing this form: Deadline to apply is May 10th


Marketing Corner: Zappos

Online apparel and footwear retailer Zappos is launching Zappos Adaptive, a curated collection of functional and fashionable products designed to make life easier for those who have challenges getting dressed.

The collection features new clothing brands such as 4Ward and Independence Day Clothing, which have items that are fully reversible, soft to the touch, tagless and free of buttons and zippers. Additionally, Zappos Adaptive offers an extensive line of easy-on shoes including slip-on, bungee and cord, hook and loop, diabetic and orthotic friendly options.   

This initiative is an extension of Zappos’ longstanding mission to meet customers’ needs and provide the best customer service possible. To support the launch, Zappos has created a dedicated customer loyalty team trained to assist customers shopping for products for special needs. Zappos is also teaming up with Madeline Stuart, a model who advocates for inclusiveness and diversity, and Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana 2012 and autism advocate to help spread the word about this new offering.

“Zappos Adaptive started with a single phone call from a customer looking to exchange a pair of shoes for her grandson who was unable to tie his own laces,” said Saul Dave, Director at Zappos, in a release. “My disappointment in not being able to replace the shoes inspired me to start this initiative. Through our research we discovered there is a huge underserved community needing clothing and footwear that is both functional and fashionable.”

Established in 1999, has millions of products from over 1,000 clothing and shoe brands., Inc. became a subsidiary of, Inc. in 2009.

Meet the New Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta 

Alexander Acosta

President Donald J. Trump nominated R. Alexander Acosta to be the 27th United States Secretary of Labor. He was sworn in on April 28, 2017.

Secretary Acosta is the son of Cuban refugees, a native of Miami, and first-generation college graduate. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. 

Following law school, he worked as a law clerk for Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He then worked at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and went on to teach at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law.

Secretary Acosta has served in three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions. In 2002, he was appointed to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, where he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions. In 2003, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and from 2005 to 2009 he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Most recently, Secretary Acosta served as the dean of the FIU College of Law.       Secretary Acosta has twice been named one of the nation’s 50 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine. He was also named to the list of 100 most influential individuals in business ethics in 2008. In 2013, the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Chairman’s Higher Education Award in recognition of his “outstanding achievements, leadership and determination throughout a lifetime of caring and giving back to the community.”

Secretary Acosta and his wife enjoy spending time together as a family, raising their two daughters.

Upcoming Events in the DC Metro Area & Beyond

nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series

Register for the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Friday, May 5, 2017 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 John Butterworth, Director of Employment Systems Change & Evaluation Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston.

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE)

Agenda: May 5, 2017

  • 12:00 pm: Introduction & Welcome
    Michael Murray, OPM
  • 12:05 pm: Overview of National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report Release
    Andrew Houtenville, UNH-IOD & John O'Neill, Kessler Foundation
  • 12:15 pm: Announcements from the field of Disability Employment
    Denise Rozell, AUCD
  • 12:30 pm: Guest Presentation
    John Butterworth, Director of Employment Systems Change & Evaluation Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston
  • 12:45 pm: Open Question & Answer period for attendees

About the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar
On the first Friday of every month, corresponding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar will take place as 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. The archived webinar will be available as a video as well as an audio-only download the following week.

20th National USBLN Conference

Orlando -USBLN 20th National Conference & Biz2Biz Expo


2017 USBLN 20th Annual Conference and Biz2Biz EXPO

Orlando, August 21-24

We are excited to announce that the preliminary agenda for the 2017 Conference and Biz2Biz Expo has been posted on our website! You will find descriptions for our five tracks of breakout sessions, workplace, marketplace, supply chain, professional development and technology and the Rising Leaders Academy. Please note, additional information about events marked “private” will be made available to USBLN corporate partners in the coming months.  

24th Annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update- TYSONS!

Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

September 13, 2017 1:00pm to September 15, 2017 3:00pm

Sheraton Tysons Hotel
8661 Leesburg Pike
Tysons, Virginia 22182

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Update is the region's leading conference on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), traditionally featuring speakers from federal agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Access Board.

The program offers a variety of breakout sessions on topics ranging from accessible design to inclusive program planning and disability employment issues.

This exceptional event offers networking and professional development opportunities for:

  • ADA Coordinators
  • Disability Advocates
  • Architects
  • Business Leaders
  • Building Code Officials
  • Educators
  • Government Officials
  • Human Resource Specialists
  • Service Providers
    The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center invites corporations, organizations and agencies to become sponsors, exhibitors or advertisers at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Update. Download our Sponsor-Exhibitor-Advertiser Package for more information and an application. Questions? Contact the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at or call 301-217-0124.

    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

    DXC technology

    Brooke Thomas, Secretary

    Lockheed Martin

    Ellen de Bremond, Treasurer

    The Choice, Inc.


    • Jenn Bassett, JBG Companies
    • Karen Cook, Gallaudet University
    • Michelle Crabtree, Hyatt 
    • Dan Ellerman, Northrop Grumman
    • Sophie Howard, General Dynamics IT
    • Patricia Jackson, Booz Allen Hamilton
    • Misty Koper, EY
    • Charlesiah McLean, Leidos
    • Eduardo Meza-Etienne, eSSENTIAL Accessibility
    • Dan Sullivan, KPMG
    • 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.
    • Dorothy Meekins, Evolver, Inc.
    • Bryan Moseley, TCS Associates
    • Chrissone Palmer, EY
    • Ann Rader, Healthcare Transformation, Strategy Execution & Management Consultant Leading Innovative Solutions
    • 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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