28 February 2008 | Jake Kanter
US president George Bush is urging government purchasers to buy goods and services from suppliers that employ disabled people.
He has lent his support to the employment programme AbilityOne, as part of his disability equality campaign the New Freedom Initiative. The scheme will encourage purchasers to buy goods such as stationery and services including laundry from suppliers supported by AbilityOne. Bush said that, although not compulsory, government custom was "critical" to the programme's commitment to employ disabled people.
AbilityOne employs nearly 43,000 blind or disabled people in more than 600 non-profit centres. It was set up in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt to provide work for the blind, making mops and brooms to sell to the government.
Paul Denett, administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in a statement: "Helping persons who are blind and severely disabled be employed by providing needed quality products and services to the federal government is the procurement community's way of supporting the president's New Freedom Initiative."