AbilityOne – Imagine a roll of tape the size of a vehicle arriving on the factory floor of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or CABVI, a nonprofit that employs persons with vision loss. The tape is turned here into individual-sized rolls that the government can purchase.
“Visually impaired individuals or those with significant visual loss make up 88 percent of our direct labor,” stated Teri Shirk, president and CEO of CABVI.
As a manufacturing pioneer, 3M is perfectly positioned to assist individuals with disabilities, and has done so for decades through the AbilityOne program.
Shirk has partnered with 3M to revive and expand its AbilityOne program. CABVI wants to add 50% additional types of tape co-branded with 3M by early 2024.
“That’s the thing about having a great partner,” Shirk continued. “This allows us to reinvest back into our mission – our vision services get funded by the manufacturing operations where we partner with 3M.”
Since 1938, AbilityOne has produced products for the government that have assisted thousands of people who are blind or have substantial disabilities in learning skills and gaining self-sufficiency. The AbilityOne initiative is changing lives, breaking down barriers, and encouraging a more inclusive society by empowering these individuals.
Throughout its more than 30 years of involvement in AbilityOne, 3M has collaborated with various nonprofit organizations, including the National Industries for the Blind, to build routes to achievement for hundreds of people with disabilities.
The National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind just recognized 3M the 2023 Large Supplier of the Year. The award celebrates 3M’s commitment and devotion to discovering new and inventive methods to employ blind people.
CABVI’s aim is to help children and people with vision loss develop brighter futures. The company provides vision services and employs people in its office supply company, base supply center, transportation company, and production facility.
CABVI has purchased 3M products for almost 15 years; they currently convert 65 various types of tape, many of which use 3M products. The plant’s machinery is outfitted with voice prompts, buzzers, and other safety features.
“Not every industry is going to be prepared to do that,” Shirk added. “They’re getting the tools, resources, and respect as individuals that they need to succeed here.” The AbilityOne program is the path, and partners like 3M make it possible.”