SOURCE: AbilityOne

October 09, 2008 14:00 ET

AbilityOne Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Non-Profit Pays Tribute to Employees With Disabilities and Program Supporters at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

SANTA ANA, CA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - AbilityOne, a program that creates employment opportunities that enable people who are blind or have other severe disabilities, today jointly commemorated its 70th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the 10th anniversary of the program at the Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Santa Ana. People with disabilities remain one of America's greatest untapped labor resources, with 60 percent of this working-age population not employed despite a national survey(1) that revealed 92 percent of consumers feel more favorable toward companies that hire individuals with disabilities and 87 percent would prefer to give their business to such companies.

AbilityOne is a federal program that employs tens of thousands of individuals who are blind or have other severe disabilities at more than 600 community-based non-profit agencies across the country and is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have severe disabilities in the United States.

"Employment is the key to economic security and personal independence of all Americans, especially Americans with disabilities," said Andrew D. Houghton, Chairperson, The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. "Through employment, this group of Americans -- 54 million strong -- will not only enhance their sense of well-being and gain more confidence, but will also be able to enjoy a reduced dependence on government support and join the ranks of taxpayers."

In an effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment, in 1988 Congress designated October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. For the last 70 years, employment opportunities in a wide variety of positions including administrative services, fleet management, call center operations, custodial, and grounds maintenance have been made possible through the AbilityOne Program and have equipped people who are blind or have other severe disabilities with the skills and training necessary to earn equitable wages, benefits and greater independence.

AbilityOne Program employees addressed guests at the celebration to speak about how the program has positively impacted their lives in the first of a series of commemorative events being held across the country. Chief Judge Alice-Marie Stotler also spoke about the 10th anniversary of the AbilityOne program at the Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse and the dedication of the employees with disabilities who work there.

Initially contracted to perform custodial services on only one floor at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, the AbilityOne Program soon expanded throughout the building as well as nine other buildings in Los Angeles and Orange County upon impressing U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) officials with the reliability and excellent work provided by AbilityOne employees.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the work that the AbilityOne employees have done at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse over the last 10 years and look forward to the continued success of the program here," said Ed Wasielewski, Los Angeles Service Center Director for GSA.

AbilityOne Program

Providing employment opportunities to over 40,000 people, the AbilityOne Program is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the United States. More than 600 participating nonprofit organizations employ these individuals and provide quality goods and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. The AbilityOne Program is administered by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (www.abilityone.gov), an independent federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB, www.nib.org) and NISH-Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Severe Disabilities (www.nish.org).

Footnote:

1. National Survey of Consumer Attitudes Documenting Consumer Support for Businesses that Hire Individuals with Disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 2006.

Contact Information

  • CONTACT:
    Patricia Condon
    Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
    (310) 248-6147
    Email Contact