Principal Investigator: B. J. LeJeune, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Randolph-Sheppard (R-S) Business Enterprise Program (BEP) is one of the most successful programs ever enacted for the employment of people who are blind, providing employment for more than 30,000 individuals with visual impairments since its creation in 1936 and currently employing about 2,500 blind entrepreneurs nationwide. Its future appears compromised, however, as evidenced by a steady downward trend in the number of both facilities and blind entrepreneurs over the past 17 years.
To address current trends and explore future needs for the R-S program, this project incorporates components that:
- Identify and evaluate the knowledge and skills needed by state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency staff to improve/enhance services provided under the Randolph-Sheppard program
- Identify and evaluate best practices in recruitment, initial training, and retention of individuals with dual sensory impairments
- Identify and evaluate best practices in recruitment of transition-age youth and young adults
- Identify minimum and preferred competencies needed by VR consumers for entry into the R-S program
- Evaluate knowledge and skills needed by R-S managers to effectively operate facilities in the R-S program, and preferred performance standards (e.g., gross, net profit) for R-S facility types (e.g., vending route, convenience store, snack bar, cafeteria)
In meeting these project goals, six deliverables are either developed or in progress using data collected from R-S BEP state agency staff, including BEP directors, trainers, and business counselors, as well as BEP blind entrepreneurs.
- General informational brochure and video were produced to help consumers determine if the BEP is right for them.
- National Online Training Curriculum for R-S BEP Staff, composed of 16 individual modules, is designed to help orient new BEP staff members to the Randolph-Sheppard Program, although anyone, including blind entrepreneurs and vocational rehabilitation staff, are welcome to use the curriculum.
- Minimum Requirements and Preferred Qualifications for Blind Entrepreneurs Entering into the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program information sheet provides a list of minimum requirements, state by state, for BEP candidates entering the Randolph-Sheppard Program. The information sheet also provides a list of qualifications for BEP candidates that are highly preferred but not required.
- Practices for Recruiting Transition-Age Youth into the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program resource guide is to assist Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP) staff in recruiting transition-age youth with legal blindness into the program.
- Working with Blind Entrepreneurs who have Hearing Loss in the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program Resource Guide was developed to assist Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP) staff working with blind entrepreneurs with hearing loss. It gives suggestions and strategies for accommodating these entrepreneurs in training activities, on-the-job, and at meetings.
- Hierholzer, A.C., & Bybee, J. (2017). Working with Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs who are deafblind: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 111(1), 61-71.
- Bybee, J., & Cavenaugh, B.S. (2014) Randolph-Sheppard national online training curriculum for program staff: Findings from a national survey of Randolph-Sheppard directors. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, (108)2, 157-162.