By Ahmat Djouma
President Biden has appointed four new representatives to the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. An independent Federal agency, the Commission was established by the Wagner O’Day Act in 1938 to provide employment to individuals who are blind and later amended, as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, to include individuals with significant disabilities. The agency manages the AbilityOne Program, currently “one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.” The law provides that the Commission’s 15 members include 11 from Federal agencies and four private citizens knowledgeable about people who are blind or have significant disabilities, including employees of nonprofit agencies affiliated with the AbilityOne Program. The Commission’s goal is to provide employment opportunities “in the manufacture and delivery of products and services to the Federal government.” This includes the responsibility for setting market prices and maintaining a Procurement List of products and services from “designated nonprofit agencies.” The four new appointments are: Bryan Bashin, CEO of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-Impaired in San Francisco, whose organization employs blind workers through the National Industries for the Blind, a central agency in the Ability One Program; Christina Brandt, CEO of nonprofit AtWork!; Gabe Cazares, Director of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office for People with Disabilities; and Chai Feldblum, an expert in disability law and employment. Read the full press statement from the White House: President Biden appoints members to U.S. AbilityOne Commission.