The AbilityOne Program — who they are, what they do, and how it helps
What is AbilityOne®? This is a question I find myself answering frequently—but it is a question that I had to ask too. Is it a new sport? An app? NASA’s newest spacecraft? Not quite.
AbilityOne is a program that requires federal government agencies to purchase products from companies that employ people who are blind or are affected by another disability. Or if you want to get into the official definition, it is a congressionally mandated, public-private partnership that harnesses the purchasing power of the U.S. government, including the military, to create jobs for Americans who are blind or have other significant disabilities.
If these definitions didn’t express to you the large impact that the AbilityOne Program has, then let me state some facts that make it pretty clear why it is so important:
- The AbilityOne Program employs approximately 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
- The AbilityOne Program employs approximately 3,000 veterans, including Wounded Warriors.
- The AbilityOne Program operates at more than 1,000 locations representing 40 government agencies across 15 time zones, including all 50 states and Guam.
- The AbilityOne Program operates more than 150 Base Supply Centers at military and government installations. Base Supply Centers are on-base supply stores where people can shop or place orders through a distributor of their choice—IBVI has stores on 14 military bases.
- More than $3.3 billion of AbilityOne products and services were procured by the federal government in fiscal year 2018.
- The AbilityOne Program’s largest customer is the U.S. Department of Defense, which spends more than $1.7 billion annually on their products and services. Other customers include government employees and General Services Administration (GSA) cardholders.
Think about it—that’s 45,000 people who are employed and living independently. Who aren’t on disability. Who are thriving because of their drive and this program. And let’s be honest, the employees who are working through an AbilityOne provider don’t have to work—they choose to.
It gives them an opportunity to gain meaningful employment, lead a more independent life, not be dependent on government entitlement programs, and be a contributing member of society. That last one is, to me, the most important fact listed.
As an authorized AbilityOne provider and GSA contract holder, IBVI is intimately familiar with military and government purchasing regulations—especially when it comes to the unique needs of the U.S. military. In our last blog, we talked about how quality control works at IBVI to make sure our customers receive only the highest-quality products that meet all of their strict and complex requirements. Whether it be customizable kitting that helps our military complete their mission or a request for 10,000 personalized mops—our team works to put out high-quality products that will meet our customers’ deadlines.
Now that you have finished reading all about the AbilityOne Program, the next time you hear someone ask what it is, you will be able to say, “It is an important program that gives meaningful employment to those who are blind or have significant disabilities while also helping to support our country.”