Aerial View of Washington DC
DC Metro BLN News - May 2019
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
May 16 2019 - 8th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

The idea of a Global Accessibility Awareness Day started with a single  blog post  written by a Los Angeles-based web developer,  Joe Devon Jennison Asuncion , an accessibility professional from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post purely by accident thanks to randomly coming across this  tweet  from Joe. After reading it, he immediately contacted Joe and they joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.

Watch this  interview of GAAD co-founder, Jennison Asuncion , by Dr. Jonathan Hassell.
DC Metro BLN Membership Update and Programs
Katherine McCary presenting in front of an audience.
New Annual Membership Benefits

Effective July 1st members receive free program passes based on the level of membership.

Corporate: $2,000
Two Attendee passes per program
Additional Attendees $65

Gold: $3000
Three Attendee passes per program
Additional Attendees $65

Diamond: $5,000
Five Attendee passes per program
Additional Attendees $65

Platinum: $10,000
Unlimited Attendee passes per program

Non-Profit: $750
One Attendee pass per program
Additional Attendees $35

Small Business: $800
One Attendee pass per program
Additional Attendees $45

Non-Member Program Fees: $115
Guest: $65
7th Annual Accessibility, Accommodations and Assistive Technology (AAAT) Symposium

May 21, 2019 - 8:30 am to 12:30 pm

Northrop Grumman
7575 Colshire Dr. McLean, VA 22102

This year's AAAT Forum will present top strategies for supporting your organization's accessibility journey. You will learn about best practices, upcoming changes to regulations, and engage in an interactive dialog with subject matter experts and experienced technology vendors.
Helen Papathanasakis
Helen Papathanasakis
Vice President of Operations and HR
eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Louis Orslene
Louis Orlesne
Co-Director at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
8th Annual Veteran Symposium: Investing for Retention and Success

June 13, 2019 - 8:30 am to 12:30 pm

Capital One
Capital One Drive Mclean, VA 22102

Speakers include:
Tom Downs
Tom Downs  
Diversity Talent Acquisition, Veteran and Military Spouse, Disability Champion
Capital One
La Nette Rutledge
Le Nette Rutledge
Military Talent Programs Manager
Wells Fargo
Eric Eversole
Eric Eversole
Vice President, US Chamber of Commerce
President, Hiring our Heroes
Timothy Green
Tim Green
Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
US Department of Labo r
Thanks to our 2018 Gala Sponsors
Booz Allen Hamilton. Strategy and technology consultants.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Herson Family Vineyards.
Lockheed Martin.
Northrop Grumman.
The Sierra Group. Disability & Employment Leaders.
TCS Associates
TCS Interpreting
IN THE NEWS - Articles of Interest
Beth Loy

From the desk of  Beth Loy , Ph.D., Principal Consultant/Technical Specialist
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in regard to any employment practices or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including recruitment and application for employment. Many employers are starting to use the Internet to recruit new employees, to post jobs, and even for job applications. The majority of these recruiting processes are inaccessible. Under the ADA, employers who use online application processes may need to modify their procedures to ensure equal access for applicants with disabilities.

One way employers can ensure equal access is to provide recruitment and application information through means other than the Internet when an applicant with a disability cannot access information on the computer. Another, perhaps more practical, alternative is to make online information accessible to people with disabilities by designing webpages that meet the needs of individuals with motor, sensory, and neurological impairments. Four simple examples are:

1) Designing large graphics that mark hyperlinks so that people with tremors have more room to activate the links,
2) Keeping screens organized and uncluttered for individuals who are easily distracted,
3) Providing brief descriptions of short sounds for individuals with hearing impairments, and
4) Removing refresh options so that screen readers do not repeatedly restart while scrolling through a webpage.

The key to making online information accessible to people with disabilities is webpage design. In order to consider the accessibility needs of the end user, there are several design tips and validation services available to webmasters. 
eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Childs hand reaching for wheelchair accessible building entrance button representing an accessible building space
Building Accessible Websites: It’s a Lot Like Creating Accessible Spaces

Accessibility is an important attribute for every website, whether large and complex, or small and simple. A website that is accessible means it can be visited and used easily by everyone, including people with disabilities. It has certain built-in features that are designed to make it work better. Other features have been intentionally avoided or removed because they are known to be barriers to people with disabilities.

A fully accessible website is one that meets the technical requirements outlined in the  Web Content Accessibility Guidelines  (WCAG), the world’s most widely used guidance for online accessibility. Currently, most regulations and policies make reference to  Level AA  of the 2.0 or the  2.1 version of WCAG .
Accessibility is vital because there are more than a billion people with disabilities around the world, and they need to be able to use websites – to find information, do their jobs, pay their bills, organize their recreation time and run their businesses – just like everyone else.

For those who don’t have extensive experience and training in web design, it can sometimes be difficult to conceptualize just what is meant by online accessibility. After all, it’s not something that can always be immediately seen – unlike certain accessible features of a physical space, such as ramps and elevators.

The truth is, though, building an accessible website is quite a lot like constructing an accessible store or office, perhaps in more ways than we might realize! Below, we’ve compared  web accessibility  to the “Checklist for Existing Facilities” distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). This checklist was produced in order to assist groups in ensuring their physical spaces are accessible.¹ The checklist isn’t exhaustive, but it can help organizations and businesses meet their obligations under the  Americans with Disabilities Act . Take a look at some of the similarities:
  • Accessible entrance
  • Access to goods and services
  • Signage and Signals
  • Build with a Partner

Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology
Accessibility Rising at CES 2019
Josh Christianson
As the global stage for innovations in emerging technology,  CES always helps shape PEAT’s focus on the  Future of Work . Organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), this year’s show did not disappoint. By prioritizing accessibility here and now, CES highlighted how next-generation technology can transform the workforce and make it more inclusive for people with disabilities (PWD).

In the Exhibit Hall Accessibility Marketplace,  Vispero  Vice President Matt Ater noted expanding interests in accessibility and assistive technology at CES. He reported that foot traffic to his booth has sharply increased every year.

Steve Ewell, Executive Director of the  CTA Foundation , likewise emphasized the uptick in attention to accessible technology across product exhibits and sessions. “Accessible technologies were on display across the show, including the WHILL Autonomous Drive wheelchair, Best of Innovation Award winner in Accessibility Technology. We saw large crowds for sessions on AI accessibility and a pitch competition addressing social isolation.”

Steve raised the example of Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge, a global competition for technology entrepreneurs and their businesses; three winners of the 2019 Tech Challenge all integrated a focus on accessibility or aging adults to enhance their products’ societal impact. “This is not an accessibility contest,” he stressed. “The general judges saw the value in this life-changing work.”

PEAT has also observed a proliferation of discussions on accessibility and  universal design  since we first attended CES three years ago. We started the week by attending the CTA Foundation’s Accessibility Roundtable. About 50 companies spotlighted how they work to ensure their products are accessible to PWD and 65+ adults as they bring them to market.

Dialogues on emerging technologies like 5G mobile communications and smart systems using artificial intelligence (AI) dominated the session and were a common theme throughout the conference. Speakers frequently discussed the impact of these technologies on local communities, government agencies, and private workplaces. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg stressed in his keynote address that “5G will change everything: 5G is the promise of so much more than what we have seen from [existing] wireless technology.” A faster digital infrastructure will boost work processes across industries, from manufacturing to customer service to transportation.

Speaking of transportation, the range of exciting innovations at CES also included a surge of technology advancements for automated vehicles (AV), including wheelchairs, buses, cars, and ridesharing services.  Voyage,  for example, is developing an approach to ensure their AV shuttles are more universally accessible.

Given that transportation represents one of the largest barriers to work for people with disabilities, AV technologies offer great promise to improve employment outcomes.

CES discussions also explored risks for emerging technology adoption. During one session, government and industry leaders debated the issue of unconscious bias undergirding behavior of AI systems, including for hiring and recruitment. They shared concerns about the potential impact of AI technology on existing non-discrimination protections in current laws. While racing to bring their AI-centered products to market, many technology companies do not yet explicitly consider non-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion Advancing Workforce Diversity
EARN’s Mental Health Toolkit: Resources for Fostering a Mentally Healthy Workplace
The four A s of a Mental Health Friendly Workplace
Not all disabilities are visible to the eye. Among those that are often non-apparent are mental health conditions.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five American adults experiences a mental health condition each year. For many of these individuals, work is a key part of their health and identity, contributing to their sense of purpose and wellbeing.

That’s why it’s important for employers to understand how to foster a mental health-friendly work culture. Such practices are good for employees, demonstrating your business’s commitment to inclusion and offering workers the support they need to meet their mental health needs. However, these practices also benefit employers by empowering employees to deliver their best on the job.

EARN’s Mental Health Toolkit is a gateway to background, tools and resources that can help employers learn more about mental health issues and cultivate a welcoming and supportive work environment for employees who may be facing mental health issues. It also presents an easy-to-follow framework for fostering a mental health-friendly workplace, all built around the “4 A’s”: Awareness, Accommodations, Assistance and Access.

GettingHired an Allegis Group Company
Why Aren't Veterans Disclosing their Disabilities?

The Getting Hired team has been increasingly receiving questions from employers with concerns about why veterans are not disclosing their disabilities. There are a few reasons why this may not be happening:

  1. Lack of understanding of veteran protections – Many employers ask on job applications if an applicant is a protected veteran, based on the outlined four categories, but employers should not assume that applicants who are protected veterans also have disabilities.
  2. Confusion between non-service and service-connected disabilities – Sometimes the differences between service connected and non-service connected disabilities can confuse veterans such that they don’t disclose their disabilities. Service connected disabilities are defined as injuries or diseases that are incurred in or aggravated by active military service. Non-service connected disabilities are those that are not incurred while in active military service. For example, a veteran with a speech-related disability may or may not have a service-connected disability. If they experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the military, their speech can be affected, and it would be considered service connected. If the person was born with or acquired a speech-related disability outside of military service, it would not be considered service connected.
  3. Confusion between ADA definition of disability and VA disability rating – Employers that desire to engage veterans with disabilities are often unclear about the definitions of disabilities. The ADA defines an “individual with a disability” as a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. A veteran’s disability rating is a percentage that the VA's Rating Authorities assign a Disabled Veteran during the VA Disability Process. The VA Disability Rating determines the amount of VA Disability Benefits a veteran receives for their service-connected conditions. Many veterans assume if they do not have a disability rating, they do not have a disability; however, this is not always the case. In order to get such a rating the veteran must first file a claim.
  4. Fear of employment discrimination - Consistent research suggests that a significant reason why veterans with disabilities aren’t disclosing is fear of employment discrimination. Veterans continually share that fear of stigma or stereotyping, especially for those with post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or depression often prevent them from sharing with employers about their disabilities.

For additional information on how to attract and retain veterans with disabilities talent, check out their piece on “ How to attract, evaluate, onboard and retain veteran talent . ” For more resources on hiring veterans with disabilities,   contact the Getting Hired team . Veteran job seekers with disabilities should also be sure to check out the   Getting Hired Job Board .
Veterans Business Enterprises of the Year
The Search is on for the Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprise of the Year®

The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) has officially opened the search to recognize the 2019 Veteran’s Business Enterprises of the Year® (VBEOY). The VBEOY is a prestigious honor bestowed annually outstanding U.S. military veteran business owners. To be eligible to receive the award, the nominee must be a U.S. military veteran business owner who actively runs the company and currently works as a supplier to private sector corporations.

There is no cost or obligation. Simply share the remarkable story about you and your business.

Act now!
nTIDE Lunch & Learn

May 3, 2019 noon EST

Webinar Agenda

  • 12:00 pm: Overview of National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report Release – Andrew Houtenville, UNH-IOD & John O'Neill, Kessler Foundation
  • 12:15 pm: News from the field of Disability Employment – Denise Rozell, AUCD
  • 12:30 pm: Guest Panelist - TBD 
  • 12:45 pm: Open Question & Answer period for attendees

If you missed previous webinars you can watch the nTIDE webinar recordings .
Building Disability-Inclusive Talent Pipelines Through Apprenticeship
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 3:00 - 4:30 PM ET
WINTAC Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center
The apprenticeship system is growing, and represents a major opportunity for WIOA core partners and other stakeholders to expand the apprenticeship model to recruit and hire people with disabilities as a pipeline to diverse, new talent.

  • Carolyn Jones, Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
  • Vinz Koller, Social Policy Research Associates (SPR)
  • Nikki Powis, WINTAC

To register for the meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, go to

Woman wearing virtual reality goggles
#InnovationAtWork: USDA TARGET Center 2019 Technology Showcase and Training
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST

Join the USDA TARGET Center's accessibility and ergonomics experts and trusted partners for the #InnovationAtWork Technology Showcase and Training event in Washington, DC. The USDA TARGET Center is USDA's accessibility center of excellence, established over 25 years ago to support employees with accessible and innovative technology solutions for disability-related and ergonomic concerns.

The 2019 #InnovationAtWork Technology Showcase and Training event is held in conjunction with  Global Accessibility Awareness Day  (GAAD), which annually hosts the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use.

DirectEmployers Annual Conference 
DEAM19 A Sea of Endless Opportunity

May 15-17, 2019
Naples Florida

Your department may be human resources, but today’s HR professional isn’t just responsible for managing regulatory compliance, recruitment or sourcing. You’re a brand ambassador, a marketer, the company’s lead salesperson and a data analyst—all rolled into one. DirectEmployers 2019 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM19) will guide you through each of these roles and help you understand not only the regulatory landscape, but also equip you with the recruitment marketing, data mining and sourcing strategy needed to compete for the best and the brightest minds.

Join Accenture and Disability:IN to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day
DisabilityIN Your business partner for disability inclusion
Showcasing Accessible Advancements
Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 10 AM - 2 PM ET
Russell Senate Building, Kennedy Caucus Room

Agenda (Tentative)
Emcee: Jill Houghton, President and CEO, Disability:IN
  • 10:00am - 10:30 am: Opening showcase
Experience accessible technology prior to program start

  • 10:30 am - 10:45am: Kickoff from Republican Member of Congress 
  • 10:45 am - 11:45 am: “The Accessibility Advantage” panel discussion
  • Moderator: Chad Jerdee, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Accenture
  • 11:45 am- 12:00 pm: Closing comments from U.S.Senator Tammy Duckworth (invited) and U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin (confirmed)
  • 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Networking reception and accessibility showcase 

Audience:  Members of the U.S. Senate and House, congressional staffers, business and non-profit leaders

Location:   The Kennedy Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325

Dress code:  Business
Accessible Analytics for the 21st Century

SAS The Power to Know
SAS Training Center
530 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209

Thursday May 16th 9 a.m. to Noon EST

You need to share analytical insights within your organization, as well as externally with the public – and you want to use modern data visualization technology. But is it possible to create beautiful interactive charts, graphs and maps that are also accessible to people with a wide range of abilities – including visual impairments or blindness?

Or you may need to generate many customized PDF files that must conform with the Section 508 guidelines, but remediation of the files is time-consuming and expensive. Is there a way to accomplish your goal without costly remediation?

At SAS, we recognize that equal access to information and services is a human rights issue. There are an estimated 1 billion people – about 15 percent of the population – with disabilities. And we want to help you develop strategies that ensure technology, information and data visualizations are accessible to all.

National Organization on Disability
Webinar: Data Driven Inclusion – Findings from the 2019 Disability Employment Tracker™
Tuesday, May 21,1:00 pm EST

This National Organization on Disability (NOD) webinar will provide a first look at the results from the 2019 Disability Employment Tracker™, NOD’s free and confidential benchmarking survey. In this context, the webinar will address emerging trends in disability employment practices and how this year’s findings compare to those of previous years. 

In for INclusion

2019 Disability:IN Annual Conference and Expo

July 15 - 18, 2018
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile

Disability:IN has opened registration for the 2019 Annual Conference and Expo. Last year’s conference sold out and this year the event is expected to bring together more than 1,500 attendees from across the country. This year’s theme is “IN for INclusion”.

Shifting Gears in a Fast-Changing World.


Shifting Gears in a Fast-Changing World
July 30 through August 2, 2019

The theme of this year’s conference is “Shifting Gears in a Fast-Changing World.” The conference will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 30 through August 2, 2019. We will be looking for new and innovative presentations that recognize the many changes that practitioners in the EEO/AA field and that workers in general are facing. The RFP will provide you with some possible topics for the conference, but we welcome different, creative ideas that will be of value to conference attendees.

Director of OFCCP Craig Leen and Acting Chair of the EEOC Victoria Lipnic have confirmed their attendance at the 2019 NILG Conference in Milwaukee! 
At last year’s conference, Director Leen spoke at length about the OFCCP’s top priorities, outlining his goals for the agency in the coming year and gave contractors a preview of the many transformative changes we saw in 2018.

In 2018, the EEOC saw sexual harassment filings jump by 12% - the first increase in at least eight years. Expect Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic to address this topic and more at the conference.
Don’t miss your chance to hear cutting edge agency developments from these two influential leaders!

RIT. National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Save the Date: 
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
As you make your employee recruitment plans for 2019, the NTID Center on Employment (NCE) invites you to join us for the 19 th  annual Career Fair, Wednesday, October 16.

Registration opens in the spring and NCE will reach out with more information as the registration date approaches.
If you’re looking to:
  • Diversify your workforce.
  • Learn how to become an advocate for accessibility
  • Meet like-minded professionals in a new and exciting environment

The RIT/NTID career fair will help you meet your goals.
A record 54 companies, including Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Merck, NAVSEA, Texas Instruments, the CIA and Prudential Financial participated in the 2018 fair.

November 13 - 15, 2019
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The 2019 Mid-Atlantic ADA Update will provide a wide range of up-to-date information on ADA regulations and guidelines, as well as strategies and best practices for successful implementation of the law. Conference speakers will include subject-matter experts from federal, state, and local government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, and universities. The ADA Update will offer opportunities to network with other professionals with similar interests and concerns. Professional development hours from several accreditation organizations will also be available.
For more information visit the conference website
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.