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ABVI Celebrates 75 years of Wagner-O'Day Act

Jun 25, 2013

ROCHESTER, NY – On June 25, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Wagner-O’Day Act into law, opening the door to unlimited employment opportunities for people who are blind, and leading to the creation of National Industries for the Blind (NIB).

Today, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) joins 90 other NIB-associated non-profits across the county to celebrate the Wagner-O’Day Act’s 75 years of empowering people who are blind or visually impaired.

The Act set the stage for the creation of the AbilityOne Program, which today generates myriad employment opportunities for people who are blind and helps combat the staggering 70 percent unemployment rate of working-age Americans who are blind. Whether through the manufacture of high-quality products or by providing top-level services to federal government and military customers, AbilityOne contracted employees are overcoming barriers and contributing to their families and the community.

ABVI has participated in the AbiltyOne Program since 1991. Currently at our Rochester facility, we produce over 25 different products for the government and military. Our employees are proud to support the government and are especially honored to sew athletic clothing for members of the military. In addition to manufacturing, we have a state-of-the-art Contact Center that answers calls for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Toxic Substance Hotline. The AbilityOne Program has helped us employ hundreds of people who are blind or visually impaired, generated over 896,000 hours of employment, and paid wages of over $12 Million. Most importantly, the AbilityOne Program has empowered people to be self-sufficient.

The achievements that have been made in the workplace for people who are blind or visually impaired have come in part because of advances in technology that have helped level the playing field and create new career opportunities for people with significant vision loss. Although we’ve made tremendous strides in expanding employment opportunities for people who are blind, misconceptions still persist. A recent survey found that the majority of hiring managers believe there are few jobs in their organization that a person who is blind can successfully perform.

At ABVI, we know this is not the case. We employ hundreds of people who are blind or visually impaired. We work with employers throughout the community to adapt work environments so people who are blind can achieve success in the workplace. Employers, as you prepare to hire, remember that blindness is not a limitation when it comes to doing great work. We invite you to visit ABVI to meet our employees and get a first-hand look at their exceptional work.

Join us in celebrating the success and contributions of people who are blind or visually impaired during the 75th anniversary of the Wagner-O’Day Act.

Learn more about the impact of the AbilityOne program on the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired in our community by clicking here.