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In 1971, Senator Jacob K. Javits introduced the Wagner-O’Day Act and made significant changes to it to include people with disabilities. This amendment led to the creation of an independent federal agency known as AbilityOne, which was responsible for overseeing the mandatory supply source for the federal government. The supply source was awarded to qualifying workshops on a non-competitive basis.

AbilityOne has established itself as an “economic citadel” and a “fortress of opportunity,” drawing on the patriotism of World War I. It associates the employment of intellectually and developmentally disabled people, as well as blind individuals, with serving the 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. However, the TAG Instagram page primarily features inaccessible images and propaganda rather than championing the individuals it employs.

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.

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