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Federal Program Helps Blind, Severely Disabled
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Federal Program Helps Blind, Severely Disabled

In 1938, under President Franklin Roosevelt, the Wagner-O’Day Act was signed to help blind people obtain jobs producing brooms and mops to the Federal Government. Since that time, the Wagner-O’Day Act has been modified to not only include blind individuals but also people with severe physical or mental disabilities. The AbilityOne program now receives administration assistance through two agencies, The NIB (National Industries for the Blind) and SourceAmerica.

In 2006, The Commission changed the name of the program from the Javits-Wagner-O’Day program to what is now known as AbilityOne. The program, whose primary objective is to secure jobs for the blind and individuals who have significant disabilities, serves Federal customers with quality products, delivered at an affordable cost. Many of the employees work for the military/defense industry, sometimes doing service-related jobs, or offering technical support from a Help Desk role. For companies like Northrop Grumman, there is a significant value in hiring individuals with disabilities- there is the benefit of cultivating talent from a diverse group of people. Additionally, employing individuals with disabilities helps improve the end result of an improved product and service. Northrop Grumman offers many programs and much support to individuals with disabilities.

“People with disabilities are an important component of a diverse pool of talent and we are determined to draw from this valuable resource. We actively seek to hire disabled employees because of the tremendous value they bring to the workplace”, says Kymberlee Dwinell, Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Northrop Grumman Corporation. As part of Northrop Grumman’s efforts to recruit/retain individuals with disabilities, the company utilizes a myriad of tools: expanded accessibility, online accommodation tools for requests, and increased website accessibility for job-seekers.

Most people that participate in the AbilityOne program are often referred by their state’s Vocational rehabilitation department counselor or are self-referred. To learn more about the criteria used to determine the eligibility of AbilityOne, it is recommended that job-seekers refer to the websites for SourceAmerica or NIB (National Industries for the Blind).

Image credit: Photo by Thomas Ashlock on Unsplash

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