Survey shows wide acceptance for capabilities of people blind, severely disabled, despite 60 percent unemployed.
As part of October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the AbilityOne Program's central nonprofit agencies are releasing survey results that demonstrate Americans have an overwhelming acceptance of the work capabilities of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. The survey findings also reveal that more than 9 out of every 10 Americans believe the government should support employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities through programs like the federal AbilityOne Program.
This strong support of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities is an important part of the efforts to reduce the unemployment rate of people with disabilities, which hovers above 60 percent.
The national survey, conducted by Greenfield Online, polled 1,000 Americans, 18 to 55+ years of age, regarding their attitudes and views on the capabilities of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities to create quality products and services. Results show:
Broad acceptances among Americans that people who are blind or have other significant disabilities are capable of producing quality products and services. A majority of people surveyed (78%) said they were comfortable with the ability of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities to make quality products and services for the government and armed forces. Additionally, 8 out of 10 people surveyed (80%) said they were comfortable with the government and armed forces purchasing products and/or services made by people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.
Overwhelming belief that the government should support employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. Almost all of the survey respondents (92%) say it is important for the government and armed forces to support the AbilityOne Program.
"The AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities" said Robert Chamberlin, President and CEO of NISH - Creating Employment Opportunities for People With Significant Disabilities.
Products for purchase from AbilityOne include: military uniforms, TSA gloves, airplane parts, office and computer supplies as well as environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. Services include call center management, contract administration, fleet management, laundry services, as well as warehouse and shipping.
"Federal workers should feel incredibly empowered that they are helping to reduce unemployment for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities by purchasing AbilityOne products and services. With every purchase of AbilityOne products and services, federal procurement officers literally create and sustain more jobs for this underutilized, but qualified workforce," Kevin Lynch, President and CEO, National Industries for the Blind said.
The AbilityOne Program is supported by the National Industries for the Blind and NISH, both organizations work with more than 600 nonprofit agencies to provide employment for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. These agencies sell products on through the federal procurement process to 40 government agencies, the U.S. military; and, to military personnel through 133 base supply centers. In Fiscal Year 2008 alone, $2.3 billion of products and services purchased by the Federal Government were made by people who were blind or have other significant disabilities by way of the AbilityOne Program.
In an effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment, Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
About the AbilityOne Program
Providing employment opportunities to more than 40,000 people, the AbilityOne Program is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have other significant 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, an independent federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH-Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Severe Disabilities. For more information, please visit www.abilityone.org.
In the United States, seven out of 10 people who are blind are not employed. At National Industries for the Blind (NIB), it is our mission to enhance the opportunities for economic and personal independence of persons who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining and improving employment. NIB and its associated agencies serve as the largest program responsible for the employment of people who are blind through the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act. For more information regarding how the NIB and NIB-associated agencies continue to provide opportunities to blind Americans, please visit: www.NIB.org.
Established in 1974, NISH (www.nish.org) is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled to support nonprofit agencies (NPAs) participating in the AbilityOne Program. NISH provides employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities by procuring Federal contracts for goods and services. Headquartered in Vienna, Va., NISH supports a network of more than 2,100 NPAs as well as Federal customers by providing legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful contract management. In FY 2006, through the AbilityOne Program, NISH-affiliated agencies operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam reported a record 43,344 jobs for people with severe disabilities. During this same period, AbilityOne-producing NPAs reported more than 136,000 jobs for people with disabilities supporting a wide range of companies, organizations and Federal customers.
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