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A Brief History of the AbilityOne® Program

by Robert Haskell

AbilityOne NIB Partner

In 1938, President Roosevelt signed the Wagner-O'Day Act which provided employment opportunities to the blind. By requiring federal government agencies to purchase goods made by the blind, individuals living with severe visual impairment could achieve personal independence. At first, the program was limited to the production of mops and brooms. Over the years, more items were produced and sold through NIB (National Industries for the Blind - a private, nonprofit organization). In 1952, NIB introduced SKILCRAFT®, a brand name that produces items through blind workers. NIB also later introduced in the late 60's rehabilitation services to increase the skills of people living with extreme visual impairment.

In 1971, under the direction of Senator Jacob Javitz, Congress amended the act to include people living with other major disabilities and to allow services to be sold. In 2007, the program name was changed to the AbilityOne® program to leverage greater services and goals. Today, AbilityOne® manufacturers and provides a wide range of products and services. Each AbilityOne® purchase provides assistance to those who need it most. Authorized AbilityOne® dealers such as OfficeSalesUSA.com can sell these products to both the federal government and general public.

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(established 1928)