WASHINGTON, June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Approximately 38 employees of the AbilityOne® Program from more than 23 states across the nation traveled to Washington, DC this week, as part of a Grassroots Advocacy Conference, to meet with Federal legislators about the importance of providing employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities. AbilityOne employees and representatives of their local nonprofit agencies made more than 170 visits to Members of Congress as part of the three-day conference. The AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, providing more than 50,000 job opportunities nationwide.
The Conference, sponsored by NISH-Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities, brings AbilityOne employees to Washington to meet other people with disabilities who are employed through the program, receive briefings on key issues, and meet with their elected officials. According to most recent Department of Labor statistics for May, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.9% up slightly from 12.5% the previous month, while unemployment among the general population remained relatively unchanged at 8.2%. Unemployment statistics do not include underemployed or disenfranchised workers – those who have stopped looking for work. Likewise, unemployment statistics among people with disabilities do not include those who are not in the labor force.
Seventy percent of Americans with significant disabilities do not have jobs. Through the AbilityOne Program, more than 600 participating nonprofit agencies (NPAs) employ these individuals and provide quality goods and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. NISH is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™ to support participating NPAs.
"The opportunity to meet with AbilityOne employees in Washington and for them to voice their opinions and speak to what the program has meant to them in person is an eye-opening experience," said Bob Chamberlin, President and CEO of NISH. "I have seen repeatedly how dedicated AbilityOne employees are to their jobs and their employers, and how important the opportunity to enter or re-enter the workforce is after years of being denied employment."
While many businesses fear that hiring people with disabilities will affect their insurance rates or that expensive accommodations will have to be put into place, this is not the case. Most employers report no cost or low cost for accommodating employees with disabilities[i].
"AbilityOne is a program that provides a benefit at every level of involvement," said Chamberlin. "Employers win by working with nonprofit agencies that provide diversified, qualified and trained workers at no cost. Individuals with disabilities are able to enjoy the financial benefits of a new paycheck, participate more fully in society, and contribute to the economy. And, society as a whole benefits when people with disabilities reduce their dependence on government support and join the ranks of taxpayers."
For more information on the AbilityOne Program, visit: www.AbilityOne.org.
NISH–Creating Employment for People with Significant Disabilities
Established in 1974, NISH (www.nish.org) is an AbilityOne authorized enterprise, one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™ in accordance with U.S.C. Chapter 85. NISH supports nonprofit agencies (NPAs) participating in the AbilityOne® Program. NISH provides employment opportunities for people who have significant disabilities by procuring Federal contracts for goods and services. Headquartered in Vienna, Va., NISH supports a network of more than 1,300 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. NISH does not represent the U.S. AbilityOne Commission.
Providing employment opportunities to more than 50,000 people, the AbilityOne® Program is the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have 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 U.S. AbilityOne Commission (www.abilityone.gov), an independent Federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB, www.nib.org) and NISH—Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities (www.nish.org).
[i] Job Accommodation Network (Original 2005, Updated 2007, Updated 2009, Updated 2010, Updated 2011). Workplace accommodations: Low cost, high impact. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://AskJAN.org/media/LowCostHighImpact.doc