Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. Long-term improvements that empower communities do not start and end with a single person.
Achieving tangible outcomes from concentrated efforts takes dedication, collaboration and compassion. When these three factors merge, long-term positive change for our country and our citizens happens. That’s what happened when National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the federal government and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) joined together for the mutual benefits of manufacturing SKILCRAFT® products and making them available in military commissaries and exchanges.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) signed legislation requiring federal government agencies to purchase certain products produced by people who are blind. In signing this law, FDR confirmed his belief that Americans with disabilities could produce high-quality, competitively priced products for federal and military customers.
During World War II, people who were blind working at NIB associated nonprofit agencies manufactured mops, brooms, mailbags and pillowcases for service members. In the 1950s, military commissaries began selling SKILCRAFT dishcloths, doormats and clothespin bags. The SKILCRAFT logo lets shoppers know that these high-quality products are made by people who are blind.
Today, NIB and its associated agencies produce more than 5,000 SKILCRAFT products. NIB and its nationwide network of associated agencies are the largest employer for people who are blind in the United States. Last year, NIB and its associated agencies generated nearly 500 new jobs for people who are blind, including veterans who sustained injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, more than 5,600 people who are blind are employed in NIB’s network.
The successful partnership between NIB and DeCA is an example of how #InclusionWorks for both people who are blind and the organizations that hire them to produce high-quality products.
The hashtag #InclusionWorks is this year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), “a nationwide campaign celebrating the skills and talents workers with disabilities bring to our workplaces,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. This federal observance, first recognized by Congress in 1945, is held every October.
“By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges,” said Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”
Here’s how #InclusionWorks for SKILCRAFT products sold at military commissaries.
NIB recognizes that meaningful employment leads to more independent lives for people who are blind. Despite continued gains in employment, seven out of 10 working-age Americans who are blind are not employed. This statistic fuels NIB’s mission to create, sustain and improve employment opportunities for people who are blind.
NIB and its associated nonprofit agencies:
- Employ more than 5,600 people who are blind across the country
- Pay an average hourly rate of $10.92
- Offer rehabilitative services to more than 128,000 people who are blind
- Operate 151 Base Supply Center stores on military and federal government facilities
- Produce 7,000+ different products, including 5,000+ SKILCRAFT products
Each of us, as commissary shoppers, have the opportunity to create jobs for people who are blind by purchasing these high-quality SKILCRAFT products. When we buy sponges, mops, kitchen gadgets, plastic flatware and brooms, we play a role in how #InclusionWorks in our country.
Your purchases lead to opportunities.
Opportunities lead to jobs.
Jobs lead to independence.
When you purchase SKILCRAFT products at your local commissary, you help to create jobs for people who are blind.
That’s how #InclusionWorks in America.