INDIANAPOLIS–The federal AbilityOne Program is designed to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It leverages the procurement of needed goods and services for the government to create employment at a fair market price. There is a network of nearly 500 nonprofit agencies nationwide.

The AbilityOne Program is meant to promote the employment of people who are blind or have severe disabilities; however, those who are blind are facing challenges to finding employment options. The U.S. government has severely limited or eliminated AbilityOne agencies as potential choices for employment because they don’t fit into their outdated and inconsistently applied definition of competitive integrated employment.

Relying on an outdated definition limits employment and creates a stigma that people who have disabilities working alongside non-disabled colleagues do not have value. But that is precisely what government agencies are doing when trying to tell a person they can’t work someplace that employs people with disabilities.

Bosma Enterprises has employees who are blind working in various positions throughout the company, including 15 leaders with vision loss. All employees are offered opportunities for cross-training, upward mobility and provided assistance if they want to seek employment elsewhere. We are also the primary provider of exam and surgical gloves to the Department of Veteran Affairs through AbilityOne. Over 50% of our workforce is visually impaired and are paid competitive wages and benefits.

Our employees are proud to serve our nation’s veterans and were essential to their protection during the pandemic. Bosma is an employer of choice, as evidenced by our low turnover rate and high employee satisfaction ratings. Our mission is to not only create opportunities for people who are blind, but also a work environment where its employees can thrive and have room to advance if they choose.

Bosma Enterprises is a perfect example of how a public-private partnership can work to serve people with disabilities by providing the dignity of work, competitive pay and benefits and turning taxtakers into taxpayers.

Recently, I testified in front of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging about the importance of this matter and how critical it is to change the definition of competitive integrated employment.

As someone who is blind, the President and CEO of Bosma Enterprises, and the President of the National Association for the Employment of People Who are Blind (NAEPB). I am asking you to advocate for a full range of choices of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. People who are blind or visually impaired should have the same opportunities as any other American when it comes to selecting a job that best suits their skills and needs.

Jeffrey Mittman
President & CEO, Bosma Enterprises
President, NAEPB

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