Desk supplies sitting on shelving, including post it notes, sticky tabs, and note pads.

AbilityOne & The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

You may wonder how the Lighthouse and your local Base Supply Center are connected. The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is a stand-alone company. However, we are connected to other organizations and do business in conjunction with other programs.

AbilityOne Program

The AbilityOne Program originated in 1938 as the Wagner O’Day Act, (renamed to the Javits-Wagner O’Day Act in 1971). It is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, an independent federal agency. Their statutory name is the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. It is one of the largest sources of employment in the United States for individuals who are blind and or have significant disabilities. This program employs approximately 45,000 people. That includes 3,000 veterans, and 30,000 AbilityOne employees who work on Department of Defense contracts.

National Industries for the Blind (NIB)

National Industries for the Blind (NIB) administers the AbilityOne federal contracts. They partner with nearly 100 independent nonprofit agencies who manufacture products and/or provide knowledge-based professional services throughout the United States. The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is an NIB-affiliated agency and manufactures products and services through the program.


The products that employees who are blind make under the AbilityOne Program receive the SKILCRAFT brand. This brand is owned and licensed through NIB. Customers can find SKILCRAFT products online, in AbilityOne Base Supply Centers (BSC), military commissaries and exchanges, and through hundreds of AbilityOne authorized distributors. The SKILCRAFT line includes thousands of offerings from office supplies and hardware to knowledge-based professional services. The SKILCRAFT brand meets or exceed exacting government standards, including the rigorous requirements of the U.S. military.

AbilityOne Base Supply Centers (BSCs)

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. operates over twelve AbilityOne Base Supply Centers (BSCs) and BSC supporting offices and warehouses up and down the West Coast of the United States. These offer one-stop shopping to military personnel and federal employees who require federally compliant supplies. Located primarily on military bases, BSCs sell SKILCRAFT products made by Lighthouse employees. They also sell products from other NIB-affiliated agencies, made by people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities. The competitive pricing for items offered by the BSCs (prices are benchmarked and fall within GSA Schedule pricing) comply with FAR Subpart 13.202.

Image Description: A middle aged white man leans on a tower of stacked boxes, smiling. He is wearing glasses and a dark blue sweatshirt with an embroidered BSC logo.

BSCs Provide Stable Employment for People Who are Visually Impaired – David Haney’s Story

Due to complications at birth, the AbilityOne Base Supply Center (BSC) Manager David Haney spent the first few years of his life completely blind. After a procedure that included putting 5-year-old David in a temporary coma to operate on his optic nerve, he was able to regain some vision yet remains totally colorblind. “I see black, white, and grey,” David explains.

Before finding The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc, which operates BSC stores up and down the west coast, David found work in a variety of fields including construction, cabinetry, and even teaching. However, David mentions that his visual impairment impacted his career opportunities significantly. “I could always get around certain things to a point but if they found out later that I had some kind of a visual problem I would get laid off or fired.”

After being laid off in 2013, David decided to seek advice on finding employment. “I went back to the employment office and I told them my dilemma. There, they told me, ‘you’re a dislocated worker, you’re an older worker, and you’re in an occupation that’s dying. How do you feel about going back to school?’ And I said sign me up!”

Always willing to learn something new, David pursued a totally new career field. “I found a couple of scholarships and I got myself enrolled at the University of Washington and I finished my bachelor’s degree in education. I wanted to teach shop!” However, David’s dreams of teaching shop were once again impacted by misconceptions. Unfortunately, teachers and principals were worried about how David would be able to keep students safe in an environment with so many tools.

Finally, David discovered the Lighthouse. “I was just perusing on the internet one day and I came across the Lighthouse. It said, ‘we encourage the employment of workers who are visually impaired or blind’ and that’s something I’d never seen before!” David immediately reached out and has been working at the Lighthouse ever since. He notes, “I’ll be going on 15 years come this September!”

During his 14+ year tenure at the Lighthouse, David has worked mostly at the Seattle Facility in production, making defense products that supply the federal government.  “Up until this last October I was a Production Lead, working on hydration and canteen cups.”

Upward mobility is highly encouraged and supported at the Lighthouse so when someone suggested that David apply for an open position with the BSC program, he decided to go for it! David is now the store manager for the AbilityOne Base Supply Center located at the Seattle Coast Guard base.

Adaptive Equipment

As part of the Lighthouse mission, positions at BSC stores can be made to be fully accessible to people with disabilities. For David, that means having access to screen magnification and screen reading software called ZoomText.

David explains, “It has adjustable features, too. So, if the screen is too bright, you can tone that down. You can turn it into different colors or to whatever makes it easy or comfortable for you to read.” When it comes to settings, every individual’s preferences are different. “I kind of tone it down and darken it up which works best for my color blindness. If I look at a normal computer screen it just blows my eyes right out of the water,” David says.

In addition to ZoomText, David also utilizes a handheld electronic magnifying glass called a Pebble to read printed text. “I use it if I have any kind of paperwork where it has small print. Some of these packages that come in have print on the labels that is really small. The Pebble comes in really handy because you can carry it around in your pocket. It makes it really easy,” he notes.

Learn more about the adaptive equipment available for people who are visually impaired >>

Watch Lighthouse employee Meka White demonstrate how adaptive equipment helps her to do her job >>

Why Shop BSC Stores

David shares why it’s important for military members to utilize BSC stores when shopping for supplies. “Supporting these stores helps people with disabilities to get job experience.” David continues, “It helps people to grow, feel confident and earn a living. To do something meaningful with their lives.”

David says, “there’s a lot of people who have a lot of potential that get bypassed because of their vision. It’s the same with any type of disability. It’s always the disability first and it’s hard for people to look past that. I think anything’s possible and I think everybody should be given a chance.”

Lighthouse employee Deng Kong

About The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit social enterprise providing employment, support, and training opportunities for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities. The Lighthouse has provided employment and support to people who are blind since 1918.

Over 480 individuals are employed at the Lighthouse, more than 270 of whom are blind, DeafBlind, or blind with other disabilities. Lighthouse employees have access to a wide range of career opportunities and comprehensive training programs allowing them to create products and provide services of outstanding quality for our customers.

The Lighthouse is a successful manufacturing organization with over 60 years of experience in precision machining. Employees produce an array of machined parts and plastic injection molding for various aerospace manufacturers, as well as a host of office products and hydration equipment sold to the Federal Government and the U.S. Military.

In addition to manufacturing, the Lighthouse also operates AbilityOne Base Supply Centers (BSCs) up and down the West Coast U.S., which offer one-stop shopping to military personnel and federal employees. Convenient locations allow personnel to walk in, select needed supplies and have them delivered on-base or in the office that same day.

When you purchase SKILCRAFT® and other AbilityOne® products at your local BSC, you help empower people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities by creating diverse, sustainable, and meaningful employment opportunities.

Learn more about the Lighthouse’s mission to empower people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities by creating diverse, sustainable, and meaningful employment opportunities.