Disability Equality Index®(DEI®)FAQs

What is the DEI?

The DEI, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®), is a national,transparent, annualbenchmarking tool that offersbusinesses an opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero (0) to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices. It is an aspirational, educational, recognition tool that is intended to help companies identify opportunities for continued improvement and help build a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

The DEIis designed to promote and advance disability inclusion policies and practices within corporate America that lead to better employment outcomes for and inclusion of people with disabilities, as employees, customers, and suppliers.

The DEI was first introduced in 2012 and piloted in 2013-2014 with 48 companies. The inaugural (2014-2015) DEI and the 2nd Annual (2016) DEI have since been successfully completed with 80+ companies.

Why is the DEIimportant to business?

The DEI helps businesses that are seeking ways to enhance their diversity efforts around disability inclusion. While the private sector is identifying methods to truly integrate disability into overall diversity strategy, there remains a need for a universal disability inclusion index that is objective, evaluative, reflective, and forward-thinking in a way that assists businesses in reaching the next level. The DEI is a forward-thinking tool that empowers and encourages companies to become industry leaders.

Some of the benefits of the DEI include:

  • It encourages businesses to employ practices that will leverage the largely untapped potential of the disability community and its allies as entrepreneurs, consumers and employees.
  • It is an objective way for companies to benchmark their progress and identify avenues for continued improvement throughout their organization.
  • Participation in the DEI is strictly confidential, and only companies that score 80 or above (out of 100) are recognized publicly.
  • It keeps practitioners informed of best and emerging practices and points them toward peers in the business community that are already high performers.
  • For companies that score well, it builds brandrecognition among potential and current employees, investors, and customers, including customers with disabilities and their friends and families.

What makes the partnership between AAPD and the USBLN unique?

The DEI brings together the nation’s largest disability rights organization and the leading national business-to-business network to collectively advance the inclusion of people with disabilities. The organizations are complimentary and bring unique strengths that make the project relevant and credible to both corporate America and the disability community.

Who did AAPD and the USBLN work with to develop the DEI?

AAPD and the USBLN are honored to be working with the DEI Advisory Committee -- a diverse group of business leaders, policy experts, and disability advocates, who have assembled to share with AAPD and the USBLN their knowledge, expertise, and vision to enhance disability inclusion policies and practices in the US business community. A full listing of the DEI Advisory Committee members can be found here:

What areas does the DEI measure?

To view the 3rd Annual (2017) DEI survey questions, please visit:

The DEI measures a wide range of criteria within four (4) categories. The breakdown of categories, subcategories, and point values is as follows:

  • Culture & Leadership (30 points)
  • Culture (20 points)
  • Leadership (10 points)
  • Enterprise-Wide Access (10 points)
  • Enterprise-Wide Access (10 points)
  • Employment Practices (40 points)
  • Benefits (10 points)
  • Recruitment (10 points)
  • Employment, Education, Retention, & Advancement (10 points)
  • Accommodations (10 points)
  • Community Engagement & Support Services (20 points)
  • Community Engagement (10 points)
  • Internal / External Support Services (10 points)

Does any other index exist for the disabilitycommunity?

While other tools exist, including the USBLN’s 503 Compliance Tool, the DEIis unique in its comprehensive nature, focusing on all aspects of disability inclusion, such as Culture & Leadership, Accessibility across the enterprise, a wide range of Employment Practices, and Community Engagement. As such, the DEIis focused on building relationships and consensus with executives in Fortune 1000 companies to advanceoverall inclusion practices and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Isthe DEI similar to the HRC Corporate Equality Index?

The DEIissimilar in nature to the HRC modelbecause it isa national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers major employers an opportunity to receive an objective score on their self-reported policies and practices. The DEIis designed to highlight best practices and help employers identify resources to improve their disability inclusion efforts.

Is the DEI a federal contractor tool?

Federal contractors will find great value in participating in the DEI. However, the DEI is not a 503 federal contractor compliance assessment. The DEI utilizesa holistic approach that evaluates inclusion practices across the business, which is important in creating a culture that supports compliance with the new 503 regulations.

How do you plan to help companies improve their scores over time?

We will work in partnership with employers to provide technical assistance and to help identify ways to improve their inclusion practices, and in doing so improve their DEI scores. Our approach is centered on collaboration and positive recognition. Our goal is to empower organizations to achieve the highest possible score and to be recognized for their successes.

Will the DEI criteria change over time?

The DEI is intended to serve as a benchmark for all organizations no matter where they are in their disability inclusion journey. It is expected that the DEI will evolve over time as disability inclusion practices that are innovative today become more universally accepted across corporate America.

Of course, any changes to DEI criteria will be made public well in advance of going into effect.


Who isinvited to participate in the DEI Survey?

AAPD and the USBLNinvitethe participation of Fortune 1000companies and AmLaw 200 law firms.

Other organizationswelcome to participate include the following, providing they have500 or more full-time employees in the U.S. as of January 1, 2016:

  • Private sector (non-government) employers that are not owned by a larger U.S. incorporated entity
  • Businesses that serve as a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-based multinational business
  • Foreign-owned private companies on behalf of their U.S. operations

What isthe timeline for the DEI?

The 2017 DEI survey was launched in January 2017. The following dates are provided for planning purposes only and are subject to slight modification:

  • January 13, 2017: Registration period closed
  • Week of January 23, 2017: Registered companies received access to the survey
  • April 21, 2017: Final company survey responses due
  • Late June 2017: DEI survey scores finalized
  • Summer 2017: Top-scoring companies (score of 80 or above) announced
  • Fall 2017: DEI Annual Report available

Is there a cost to companies to participate in the DEI?

The cost to participate in the DEI is a $600.00 administrative/processing fee. This is a flat fee to help cover the administrative costs of AAPD and the USBLN providing the survey. The flat fee enables AAPD and the USBLN to collaborate on this benchmarking initiative and advance disability inclusiveness in corporate America on your behalf.

By paying the $600.00 administrative fee, participating companies receive access to the survey and receive a basic score report. The basic score report consists of their company’s score results. Companies also receive a copy of the DEI Annual Report, which containsaggregate score results and best practice information for benchmarking purposes.

Please Note: For companies that are annual dues-paying Corporate members of the USBLN and meet the eligibility criteria for participation in the DEI, the $600.00 fee to participate is waived.

How do companies register to participate in the DEI?

Thank you for your interest in participating in the 2017 DEI! The registration process is now closed, as the 2017 DEI is currently under way. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact . Please also be sure to join the DEI mailing listto stay informed about the DEI and to receive information about the 2018 DEI as soon as updates become available later this year.

Were there any changes made to the content of the survey?

The 2017 DEI Survey is nearly identical to the 2016DEI Survey. The terms and conditions are the same, the survey categories and subcategories are the same, the scoring process is the same, and no weighted (score impacting) survey questions have been added or removed. While there are some minor wording updates throughout the surveywhere we found the need to clarify further what we are looking for, the overall substance and intent of each question is still very much the same. There are also some new non-weighted (non-score impacting) survey questions.

What survey scores will be published?

The score range for the DEI is zero (0) to 100, with 100 being the highest score possible. Scores are in increments of 10. We publicly recognize top-scoring companies that have a score of 80 or above by publishing their company name and DEI survey score on the DEI website. We may also recognize top-scoring companies on AAPD’s DEI website landing page, on the USBLN’s DEI website landing page, at an AAPD, USBLN, or DEI event, in DEI related reports, in news releases, and in other similar places.

The breakdown of a company’s score is not published. For example, if a company scores 90, we only state that the company scored 90. We do not state in which category the 10 points were missed.

Companies that score below 80are kept confidential. We do not release the company’s name, score information, or survey responses, and only release information directly back to representatives of the company.

In general, DEI survey results are reported in aggregate, and all company survey responses are used to report aggregate results, regardless of the survey score.

Companies are required to accept these terms in order to participate in theDEI survey. For more information about use of company information, please visit:

What other survey information may be shared publicly?

In general, any information submitted in the DEI survey may be utilized for reporting purposes. However, only scores of 80and aboveare published and the breakdown of scores are not, in any case, published regardless of company score. Additionally, it’s important to note that our overall approach with the DEI is centered on positive recognition of inclusive practices.

How do you intend to recognize top performers?

The goal is to ensure that the recognition meaningfully builds a company’s reputation for diversity and inclusion with potential employees, investors, and customers, including customers with disabilities.

AAPD and the USBLN will recognize top-scoring companies in the following ways:

Companies that score 100:

  • Use of 100% DEI Best Places to Work logo
  • Prominently featured on 2017 Best Places to Work listing on the DEI website
  • Prominently featured on 2017 Best Places to Work listing in the DEI Annual Report
  • Recognition in a news release with other top-scoring companies
  • Recognition via social media
  • Invitation to invite-only “DEI Top-Scoring Companies” reception in 2017
  • May have a best practice(s) published in the DEI Annual Report

Companies that score 90 or 80:

  • Companies that receive a 90 receive the benefit of using the 90% DEI Best Places to Work logo
  • Companies that receive an 80 receive the benefit of using the 80% DEI Best Places to Work logo
  • Recognition on a list featured on the 2017 Best Places to Work listing on the DEI website
  • Recognition on a 2017 Best Places to Work listing in the DEI Annual Report
  • Recognition in a news release with other top-scoring companies
  • Recognition via social media
  • Invitation to invite-only “DEI Top-Scoring Companies” reception in 2017
  • May have a best practice(s) published in the DEI Annual Report

Please Note: A score of 100 does not mean to convey “perfection.” AAPD and the USBLN recognize there is no one “right” way to practice inclusion, and that some practices may be more practical for some companies or industries than others. A score of 100on the DEI simply means that a company adheres to many of the numerous leading disability inclusion practices featured in the DEI.

What is the DEI Annual Report?

The DEI Annual Report is an in-depth report that consists of aggregate results from the DEI survey, as well as “Best Practices” from top-scoring companies**. Purchase the 2016 DEI Annual Report here:

**Ifa top-scoring company (has score of 80 or above) submits an innovative disability inclusion practice as part of their survey submission, we may feature it in the DEI Annual Report. Specifically, any best practice information that is used in the report will come from the “Best Practice” question that is at the end of each of the nine (9) survey subcategories and / or from Questions 1 and 2 in the “Additional Information” section.

“Best Practice” questions and Questions 1 and 2 in the “AdditionalInformation” section are optional and do not impact a company’s score. The intent of the “Best Practice” questions and “Additional Information” Questions 1 and 2is to enable companies to highlight their innovative disability inclusion practices.

Some “Best Practices” information may also be made available publicly at the joint discretion of AAPD and the USBLN.

What were the results from the 2016 DEI survey?

Eighty-three companies, across 23+ industries, participated in the 2016 DEI. Forty-two companies received a 100on the survey. To view a list of the 2016 DEI Best Places to Work, visit:

We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. Some of the feedback we have received about benefits of participation includes:

  • “Internal collaboration”
  • “It helped identify areas for improvement that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of”
  • “We had several ‘aha’ moments”
  • “Helps us think about things in a different and holistic way”

Additionally, some of the strengths of the DEI that were reported included:

  • “Questions are thought provoking and straightforward / understandable”
  • “Like that it touches on so many areas of the company”
  • “In addition to giving me ideas of things to work on, it was an easy conversation starter with individuals in other functions (IT, Communications, etc.).”
  • “Truly like the broad, inclusive scope of the areas addressed. Excellent depth and really like the way it holds us accountable.”

More learnings can be found here:

How long does it take to complete the DEI survey?

Most first-time participants report that it takes between 21 and 40 hours in total staff hours. After the first year, most participants report that it takes less time to complete.


Where can I learn more about the DEI?

Please visit the DEI website at

How can I be kept informed of public announcements regarding the DEI?

Please join the DEI mailing list by visiting and clicking on “Join Our Mailing List”. To be kept informed of public announcements on behalf of AAPD and the USBLN, please join AAPD’s mailing list by visiting and going to “Sign up for our newsletter” and the USBLN’s mailing list by visiting and going to “Join Our Mailing List.”

Who can I contact if I have questions about DEI?

For general questions about DEI, please contact DEI staff .


About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power for people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the 50+ million Americans with disabilities. Learn more at

About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®)

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN® serves as the collective voice of over 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN® Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation’s leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.


IT Security:

The DEI Survey Tool is hosted by New Editions Consulting, Inc. New Editions’ most important concern is the protection and reliability of customer data and uses industry standard techniques to secure data. New Editions’ servers are protected by high-end firewall systems, and vulnerability scans are performed regularly. All services have quick failover points and redundant hardware, and complete backups are performed nightly. New Editions uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption (also known as HTTPS) for all transmitted data. Each company’s DEI survey tool responses are password protected to protect confidentiality. Participating companies determine who within their company has access to the DEI survey tool. All PII and financial records are encrypted using a 256-bit AES algorithm prior to storage. Data is hosted by a third party data center that leverages an ITIL-based control environment validated for compliance against HIPAA, PCI DSS and SOC (formerly SAS 70) frameworks. The data centers are also 100% compliant against OCR and PCI Audit Protocols.

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All information in this document is subject to change at any time without notice.

© 2017American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). US Business Leadership Network (USBLN). All rights reserved.