The agency was created in 1974 so support nonprofit agencies (NPA's) that participate in the, 'AbilityOne,' program which provides employment opportunities for persons who are either blind, or experience severe disabilities by procuring Federal contracts for services and goods. NISH is headquartered in Vienna, Va. And supports a network of greater than one-thousand three-hundred NPA's, as well as Federal customers, through providing the regulatory and legislative assistance, information technology support, public relations, and professional training they need to successfully manage contracts.
The AbilityOne program provides employment opportunities to greater than forty-thousand people; it is the largest single source of employment for persons who experience severe disability or are blind in America. There are more than six-hundred nonprofit organizations participating in employment of people with these forms of disabilities. These organizations also provide services and goods to the Federal Government.
The AbilityOne program itself is a coordinated effort through the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, National Industries for the Blind (NIB), and NISH. The combined efforts of these organizations has provided persons with disabilities the opportunities they need to get job skills and training, achieve greater independence, receive both benefits and wages, and gain a higher quality of life. The AbilityOne program has provided persons with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy participation in the communities they are a part of, as well as the ability to market the skills they have gained into other private and public sector jobs.
NISH is headquartered in Vienna, Va. But has a number of regional offices. These offices are located in California, Washington, Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Illinois. NISH offers the agencies it works with regulatory assistance, engineering, financial and technical assistance, communications assistance and other services in addition to those already mentioned. NISH has a vision of employment for every single person with a severe disability. They value excellence, upholding the highest standards in all they do. They continually seek ways to improve what they do through cultivation of creativity; they embrace change and seize opportunity. NISH believes in accountability, they hold themselves responsible for achieving measurable results and ensuring stewardship of their resources. They value diversity, respecting the contributions and participation of not only employees, but customers and stakeholders from different and various backgrounds. NISH also believes in collaboration, working together to achieve the optimal results desired. They believe in integrity, openness, honesty, and forthright living.
The AbilityOne program is very closely working with NISH. They have found employment opportunities for people with disabilities that continue to rise. NISH and AbilityOne, along with more than six-hundred community-based nonprofit agencies, have found employment for forty-thousand people with disabilities. People with disabilities are still an untapped resource in America with an unemployment rate that is near seventy-percent. There are still tens of millions of persons with disabilities without jobs in America. According to the 2000 Census, of the 31 million United States residents between the ages of 21 and 64 who have disabilities, 21 million are unemployed.
The AbilityOne program is the biggest single provider of employment for persons who experience severe disability or are blind. The program provides national coverage as their community-based partners are in every single state in the nation, as well as in the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. AbilityOne saves State and Federal governments greater than forty-six million dollars every year. The savings reflect the increase in both income and payroll taxes and reduction of entitlements which are the result of employment of persons with disabilities, something to think about indeed. High quality job opportunities are available through the AbilityOne program for persons with disabilities who face significant barriers to employment and might otherwise rely on public benefit programs.
AbilityOne uses the purchasing power of the Federal Government in order to buy both services and products from community-based nonprofit agencies that participate and are dedicated to training and employment of persons with disabilities. The law requires the Federal Government to buy specific products and services from its community-based, nonprofit partners. Employment people with disabilities, such as those who experience severe disabilities or persons who are blind, gives the AbilityOne program the opportunity to increase their independence and self-esteem. AbilityOne is able to assist them to enjoy full participation in the communities they are a part of, as well as to market their abilities to public and private sector jobs. All of this wonderful work, and the AbilityOne sales account still only accounts for less than one-percent of all Federal procurement dollars being spent. Imagine what can be done should this program grow to include the remaining persons with disabilities who are unemployed in this nation.