How High-Tech Disability Technology is Used in Warfare Instead

AbilityOne: A Fortress of Opportunity for the Disabled, or a Facade of Inclusion?

In the early 1970s, Senator Jacob K. Javits made significant changes to the original Wagner-O’Day Act by adding provisions that protected people with significant disabilities. This amendment led to the creation of an independent federal agency called AbilityOne, which was responsible for overseeing the mandatory supply source for the federal government. Qualifying workshops were awarded this supply source on a noncompetitive basis.

AbilityOne has aligned itself closely with its largest contractor, the Department of Defense (DOD), portraying itself as an “economic citadel” and a “fortress of opportunity.” The organization draws on the patriotism of World War I and associates the employment of intellectually and developmentally disabled people, as well as blind individuals, with serving their nation. One such organization, LCI, claims to be the largest employer of blind individuals globally and acquired Tactical Assault Gear (TAG), a tactical assault gear marketplace, in 2010.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, strengthened the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD). The PCEPD has its roots in a Truman-era resolution calling for the observance of “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1992, an Americans With Disabilities Act Summit brought together leaders from various sectors to discuss disability employment issues. The PCEPD Annual Awards were established to recognize employers that developed outstanding approaches to ADA compliance during this summit. These awards reflect a trend of inclusion that protects corporations that historically benefited from New Deal programs that provided disabled labor.

However, it is worth noting that some organizations within AbilityOne’s network have been criticized for not fully embracing inclusion and accessibility in their operations. For example, LCI’s TAG Instagram page primarily features inaccessible images and propaganda rather than championing

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