New law protects blind, disabled workers
HR 4920, recently signed into law by President Trump, allows AbilityOne and the Veterans Benefit Act to coexist and achieve separate, complementary, service missions.
The legislation resolved a conflict between the Veterans Benefits Act (VBA) and the federal charter for the AbilityOne program, which facilitates a network of nonprofits that employ people who are blind.
Bosma Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that assists Indiana residents who are blind or visually impaired, said in a press release that the VBA did not contain the necessary language to create an exemption for AbilityOne, leaving AbilityOne’s existing federal contracts uncertain.
“Protecting employees’ jobs is our top priority, and this legislation will do just that. We were not seeking preference over veteran businesses but rather clarification of conflicting federal laws. Members of Congress delivered, and we look forward to continuing our work with the VA,” Jeffrey Mittman, president and CEO of Bosma Enterprises, said in the release. Mittman is a U.S. Army veteran and has total vision loss.
Bosma Enterprises said in the release that it has contracted with the Veterans Affairs administration for several years and shipped millions of gloves to VA facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without this long-term solution, the total loss of jobs would have been devastating, both for people who are sighted and those who are blind, visually impaired or have significant disabilities,” Lise Pace, vice president of external affairs at Bosma Enterprises, said. “Worse still, thousands of Americans would have lost access to life-changing rehabilitative and support services provided by Bosma Enterprises and other AbilityOne programs.”
- U.S. AbilityOne Commission. History. Available at: https://www.abilityone.gov/abilityone_program/history.html. Accessed Oct. 2, 2020.
- U.S. AbilityOne Commission. Who works with AbilityOne. Available at: https://www.abilityone.gov/abilityone_program/who_works.html. Accessed Oct. 2, 2020.