Randolph - Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP)
The Indiana Business Enterprise Program as part of the Randolph-Sheppard Act provides people who are blind with access to rewarding and profitable entrepreneurial ventures, broaden their economic opportunities, and invigorate all blind people to be self-supporting, while dispelling misconceptions about people who are blind by showcasing their abilities. The Randolph-Sheppard Act was signed into law on June 20, 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and over the years, has changed dramatically from single vendor-managed concessions and newsstands to large military food service contracts, kiosks, convenience stores, laundry facilities, restaurants, snack bars, automated vending machine operations including vending routes, highway rest-area vending and much more. The focus has changed from employment to creating true entrepreneurial opportunities.
“Through the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program…talented and creative individuals who are blind have acquired the management training and business skills necessary to realize the American dream -- a lifetime of economic opportunity, independence, and self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.”
-President Barack Obama, January 20, 2012
Click here to view our Business Enterprise Program success stories.
BEP Licensed Manager Qualifications
Successful BEP entrepreneurs are leaders, customer service oriented, ethical, mature, organized, motivated, ready to work, and able to relocate to accept an opportunity.
In order to be accepted for training in the BEP, an applicant must:
- be legally blind*;
- at least eighteen (18) years of age;
- a United States citizen; and
- hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Candidates must also have:
- adequate orientation and mobility skills to travel independently;
- skills sufficient to communicate with the public in a courteous manner; and
- the ability to develop and maintain working relationships with others;
- be able to maintain required records and reports;
- mathematical skills sufficient to operate a small business; and
- independent daily living skills sufficient to allow the applicant to meet personal care and facility maintenance needs.
* Legal blindness is defined by the Social Security Administration as best corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye; or a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field, in the better eye, subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
Interested Candidate Checklist
The Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program is for individuals who are legally blind and are a client of Vocational Rehabilitation Services in terms of achieving employment. Referral for the BEP must be completed by Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor but interested candidates are encouraged to contact a BEP representative directly through the BEP Candidates Form available by clicking here.
Step 1: Ensure you meet the Federal minimum qualifications listed above.
- This may mean you need to obtain an updated low vision evaluation or complete some remedial training to brush up on math and writing skills.
Step 2: Research the Randolph Sheppard Act and the Indiana Business Enterprise Program
- About the Business Enterprise Program from a National perspective
- BEP Brochure (Word and PDF)
- Review our Frequently Asked Questions
- Blind Vendors- Understanding the Randolph Sheppard Program
- BizTalk- Randolph Sheppard
Step 3: Work at your own pace completing pre-requisite business basics and computer courses online
- Hadley Institute for the Blind offers free online courses known as Business Basics including Business Writing, Using Excel, Internet: Beyond the Basics, Business Communications, and Business Fundamentals. Sign of for these directly through Hadley by following this link.
- Additional courses are available through the Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship for individuals interested in running their own small businesses. Sign up for these directly by following this link.
Step 4: Talk with your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and the Business Enterprise Program
- Think you’re an ideal candidate and interested in getting started? It’s time to call your VR Counselor and discuss this goal and the research into why you’re an ideal candidate. Please also fill out the BEP Candidate Form (located here) and program staff will contact you within three business day