NIB Reflects on Historic Act That Changed Employment Potential for People Who Are Blind
National Industries for the Blind (NIB) is proud to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act. Thanks to this act, each day, people who are blind continue to build rewarding careers at NIB associated agencies, manufacturing thousands of critical response products to help the nation emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as performing work in nearly every sector of the economy.
“The passage of the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act is landmark legislation that led to greater economic and personal independence for people who are blind,” said Kevin Lynch, NIB CEO. “However, we are still living in a time where the majority of working-age Americans who are blind are not employed. Legislation like the JWOD Act is still needed, even in today’s world.”
The Wagner O’Day Act, signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1938, formalized the sale of products made by people who are blind to the federal government and precipitated the founding of NIB as the program’s central nonprofit agency. In 1971, the JWOD Act expanded the original Wagner-O’Day Act to include the sale of services to the federal government by both people who are blind and those with significant disabilities. With the JWOD Act, nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind were granted priority for the provision of products to the federal government, while nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind and nonprofit agencies employing people with significant disabilities were granted equal priority for the provision of services to the federal government.
The JWOD Act’s provisions also meant the independent federal agency overseeing the program – known as the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled – received a small appropriation and support staff. The Committee also expanded to include more federal and private sector members. In 2006, the JWOD program became known as the AbilityOne® Program and the Committee began operating as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission® in 2011. As the AbilityOne® Program has evolved, NIB has worked to continuously expand the number and types of SKILCRAFT® products and services available to federal customers, develop professional training programs, and increase career opportunities for people who are blind. Today, NIB works with nearly 100 associated nonprofit agencies across the country that pay competitive wages and provide fully inclusive work environments.
As we recognize this anniversary, NIB continues to support innovation that advances independence and employment opportunities for people who are blind. By embracing advances in accessible technology and delivering innovative training and professional development, NIB has launched new career options for people who are blind in a range professional services fields – including kitting, supply chain management, contract management, and cybersecurity. NIB has also expanded its product offerings to include more than 4,000 different items, sustaining thousands of careers for people who are blind nationwide.
About National Industries for the Blind
Since 1938, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has focused on enhancing the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining, and improving employment. NIB and its network of associated nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind through the manufacture and provision of SKILCRAFT® and other products and services of the AbilityOne® Program. For more information about NIB, visit NIB.org