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THE ABILITYONE PROGRAM

The AbilityOne Program is a federal initiative to help people who are blind or severely disabled find employment by working for nonprofit agencies (NPAs) that sell products and/or services to the U.S. government.  In 1938, Congress created the program to enable agencies serving people who were blind to sell products to the federal government.  By 1971, the original Act was amended to permit people with other severe disabilities to also benefit.  In the United States in 2007, barely one-third of people who are blind or have other severe disabilities are employed.  Almost half of those with college degrees are unemployed.

Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (Committee) is the federal agency authorized to administer the program.  The Committee is responsible for determining which products and services are suitable to placed on its Procurement List and furnished to the government by people who are blind or severely disabled.  The Committee also determines the fair market prices to be paid for those items.  It has designated two Central Nonprofit Agencies, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH, to assist with program implementation.  More than 600 NPAs associated with either National Industries for the Blind or NISH are producing products and services under the program.  The core criteria for NPA eligibility is that 75% of total direct labor hours must be performed by people who are blind or have other disabilities.  In 2006, nearly 47,000 people were employed through the program, making AbilityOne the largest source of work opportunities for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the United States.  To learn more about the Committee or view the Procurement List, visit www.abilityone.gov.