AbilityOne: Employment Opportunities for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

AbilityOne, formerly known as the JWOD Program, provides employment opportunities for people who are blind or have severe disabilities in the manufacture and delivery of products and services to the federal government. As the largest source of employment of people who are blind or have severe disabilities in the United States, the AbilityOne Program taps into the abilities of nearly 47,000 individuals nationwide in coordination with over 600 nonprofit agencies. In 1938, the Wagner-O'Day Act was passed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to provide employment opportunities for people who are blind by allowing them to manufacture mops and brooms to sell to the Federal Government.

In 1971, under the leadership of Senator Jacob Javits, Congress amended this Act ( 41 U.S.C. 46-48c) to include people with severe disabilities and allow the Program to also provide services to the Federal Government. Over sixty years later, this extraordinary socioeconomic program provides Federal customers with a wide array of quality products and services, while providing thousands of people with severe disabilities real jobs and increased independence.

The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled is the JWOD Program's Federal overseer. Through two Central Nonprofit Agencies, National Industries for the Blind and NISH (serving people with a range of disabilities), the Committee currently works with over 600 nonprofit agencies across the country, as well as in Puerto Rico and Guam, to provide employment opportunities to people with severe disabilities. The purchase of JWOD products and services by Federal customers helps battle the 70 percent unemployment rate faced by this untapped labor resource.

In 2006, the Committee decided to change the umbrella name for the program it administers under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act from "JWOD" to AbilityOne. For more information, click this link to visit the JWOD Website at http://www.JWOD.gov, or click this link to visit the AbilityOne website at http://www.AbilityOne.gov.

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