Ability One

A Brief History of the AbilityOne Program

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 authorizing 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 70 years later, this extraordinary socioeconomic program provides Federal customers with a wide array of quality products and services, while providing employment for thousands of people with significant disabilities.

The AbilityOne Program Today

To leverage collective efforts and project a unified program with broad capabilities and a clear purpose, the AbilityOne® brand was adopted in 2007.

The AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States.  More than 550 nonprofit organizations employ these individuals and provide quality products and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. 

The Program is administered by the Commission, an independent federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB), and SourceAmerica®.

The purchase of AbilityOne products and services by Federal customers provides employment opportunities for people who face the greatest barriers to employment- Americans who are blind or have significant disabilities.