Best Practices in the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program

Principal Investigator: B. J. LeJeune,

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.

Project Outputs