Randolph Sheppard Business Enterprise

Blind and Visually Impaired Services (BVIS)

Blind and Visually Impaired Services (BVIS) seeks to expand small business opportunities to persons who are blind through the Randolph Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP). The BEP program is managed through the, BVIS, Division of Disability & Rehabilitative Services (DDRS); 460 IAC 2-4-1).

The agency carries out the duties of planning programs and setting policies, standards, and procedures wit the active participation of the Indiana committee of licensed managers. The agency selects and develops suitable locations for BEP facilities in properties owned, leased in whole or in part, or operated by: the federal government, the state, county, township, city town or a private entity.

The agency determines the criteria for suitable locations for a BEP facility, with the criteria to include the income potential of possible locations. The agency takes reasonable steps to improve the profitability of each BEP facility, including determining whether other locations or sites should be added as part of the facility. The agency selects and supervises licensed managers for BEP facilities, giving preference to blind persons who are in need of employment. The agency through its supportive staff and Business Counselors requires that all aspects of a licensed manager’s operations, including fiscal matters, are in compliance with business enterprise program rules and procedures. The agency makes suitable BEP equipment and adequate initial stock available to operators and provides opportunities for upward mobility, training and retraining for improved work opportunities.

In order to be accepted for training in the BEP program an applicant must be:

  1. Legally blind
  2. At least eighteen (18) years of age;
  3. A United States citizen;
  4. Hold a high school diploma or equivalent;
  5. A consumer of vocational rehabilitation services;
  6. Referred for the business enterprise program by vocational rehabilitation services;
  7. Have adequate orientation and mobility skills to travel independently;
  8. Have skills sufficient to communicate with the public in a courteous manner and the ability to develop and maintain working relationships with others;
  9. Be able to maintain required records and reports;
  10. Have mathematical skills sufficient to operate a small business; and
  11. Have independent daily living skills sufficient to allow the applicant to meet personal care and facility maintenance needs.

A Manager trainee must successfully complete training for the BEP before being licensed as a manager. Training for the BEP is about six months and has been held at IVY Tech State College. Training includes classroom training in the skills necessary for the general operation of any type of BEP facility. Topics included are accounting, banking, business administration, and cash handling communication customer service, machine training sanitation marketing and inventory control and orientation to all types of BEP facility operations. Also included is on-the-job training with a licensed manager or at a facility approved by the state agency. The trainee also receives training on the BEP rules, requirements, policies and procedures as well as training on the application of federal, state, and local laws relating to operating a facility.

How to apply?

The individual must be an eligible consumer of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) and referred to the BEP program. Application can be made at the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Office or via the web page (BVIS and VRS). BVIS can be contacted toll free 1-877-241-8144.