Alabama Industries for the Blind: History

In 1932, Ms. Mattie Smith, a teacher for the Alabama School for the Blind (ASB), was the first to envision blind employment opportunities for Alabamians. Utilizing borrowed and used sewing machines, Ms. Smith, along with five ASB graduates, made pot holders, pillowcases and sheets. Ms. Smith and her former students then sold these products through the Federated Women's Clubs of Alabama. Thus, the Alabama Industries for the Blind (AIB) began the journey that has lasted for close to 80 years.

In 1938, Congress passed the Wagner-O'Day Act. This law directed federal agencies to purchase products from non-profit industries that employ blind or handicapped people. Amended in 1971 as the Javits-Wager-O'Day (JWOD) Act, now called the Ability One Program, it then provided for the purchase of both products and services and included Federal purchasing from industries serving people with other severe disabilities.

Since 1932, AIB has steadily grown in products and personnel. Today, nearly 300 people are employed by AIB, including those at the main facility in Talladega and our Birmingham location. AIB provides services and employment opportunities by operating Base Supply Centers located at Redstone Aresenal in Huntsville, Alabama, Moody AFB at Valdosta, Georgia, and Ft. Rucker in Dothan.  AIB is one of the top-five largest industries for the blind in the United States.

AIB proudly celebrated 75 years of history and providing employment to blind and deaf adults in 2007.  To learn more, tour or to Shop AIB, contact us at 800.801.9032 or