What is the U.S. AbilityOne Commission?

What is the U.S. AbilityOne Commission?
An independent federal agency, the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, also known as the AbilityOne Commission, administers the AbilityOne Program(http://www.abilityone.gov/abilityone_network/cnas.html), which creates job opportunities in the areas of manufacturing and delivering products and services to the U.S. government. The commission works through National Industries for the Blind, or NIB, and SourceAmerica, two central nonprofit agencies that match government contract funds with more than 550 independent nonprofit groups nationwide that help to train and employ people with disabilities. Because of this coordination, the federal government receives high-quality products and services at fair market prices. More than 45,000 persons who have disabilities, including about 3,000 veterans, participate in the program. Those persons can then use their skills and experience to enter future employment in other public or private sector jobs.

The goals of the AbilityOne Commission include:

1. The opportunity for every person with a severe disability to work productively.

2. The opportunity for every employee of the AbilityOne Program to earn a living wage and benefits.

3. The opportunity for AbilityOne employees, with or without accommodations, to achieve their peak employment potential.

4. Customer satisfaction as a result of quality products and services provided by AbilityOne employees.

5. Reduction of the exceptionally high number, currently 70 percent, of unemployed U.S. citizens with disabilities.

6. Empower people with disabilities with skills to be productive members of the American work force.


Enacted in 1938 with the signature of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Wagner-O’Day Act authorized people who were blind to be employed in the manufacture of brooms and mops for sale to the U.S. government. The same year, NIB was incorporated as a private, nonprofit corporation.

In 1971, Sen. Jacob Javits of New York sponsored legislation that included people with any severe disability, in addition to the blind, to be covered under the Wagner-O’Day Act. The new legislation became the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act and provided a full-time civil servant support staff for the commission. The commission changed the name of the act in 1971 to the more easily-recognizable AbilityOne Program.