Employing the Disabled: LCI’s Controversial Acquisition of Tactical Assault Gear and its Impact on Inclusion Efforts

Instead of Being Used in Cutting-Edge Disability Technology, It Gets Sent to War

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 brought newfound relevance to the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD). This committee has a history dating back to a Truman-era resolution calling for the observance of “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” At a 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act Summit, the committee hosted the PCEPD Annual Awards to acknowledge employers who had exemplary approaches to ADA compliance. These awards laid the foundation for a new era of inclusion that aimed to protect corporations that had benefited from disabled labor under the New Deal.

In 1971, Senator Jacob K. Javits made amendments to the original Wagner-O’Day Act to ensure that people with significant disabilities were included. This led to the establishment of an independent federal agency, later named AbilityOne, which oversaw the mandatory source of supply for the federal government. This source was awarded to qualifying workshops on a noncompetitive basis. AbilityOne has positioned itself as an economic stronghold and a fortress of opportunity, aligning itself with the Department of Defense (DOD), its largest contractor. They associate the employment of intellectually and developmentally disabled people, as well as blind individuals, with patriotism, using slogans like, “Serving those who serve our nation.”

One notable organization within the AbilityOne network is LCI, which claims to be the largest employer of blind people in the world. In 2010, LCI acquired Tactical Assault Gear (TAG), a leading tactical gear marketplace. However, despite their claims about inclusivity and accessibility, many find issue with TAG’s Instagram page where images often do not cater well to those it purports to support. The captions often include propaganda phrases like “working hard for those who continually shoulder the hard work” instead of focusing on accessibility and inclusivity.

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