We don’ been had.
The AbilityOne program is supposed to be the largest federal job placement program for people with disabilities.
This multi-billion dollar program is instead being found to be harming people with disabilities. Its actions actually take jobs away from those people, place others in sheltered workshops, and provide cozy deals for contractors and others through a series of backroom deals that are incredibly lucrative for executives of the agencies contracted by AbilityOne. Federal and media investigators are also finding that Source America, tasked by AbilityOne to distribute contracts, often did so with companies whose members had ties with its own board of directors.
AbilityOne exists because the vast majority of people with disabilities are unemployed, or are working far below their capacity due to a variety of factors. Employment programs like AbilityOne were created to help bridge the gap between people with disabilities and their nondisabled counterparts.
Advocates, and many others, are furious that AbilityOne’s lack of checking on Source America, or even direct involvement in their actions, caused such an outcome. Not only have their actions been a waste of taxpayer money, but they actually hurt the people they were being paid to help.
Now, advocates are demanding action. A petition at ReformAbilityOne.org to change AbilityOne has started and is backed by many disability-rights organizations including TASH and the National Council on Independent Living.
Through this petition and other methods, these organizations hope to bring about major changes to AbilityOne including:
1. Ensure Transparency and Accountability
2. End Workplace Segregation
3. Pay Fair Wages
4. Provide Real Job Training
5. Award Contracts to People with Disabilities
Now, these shouldn’t be too much to ask for, as the majority of the demands were the original point of the program.
If these objectives can’t be done, maybe it’s time we be done with AbilityOne.