The path for an individual who is blind to become a BEP licensed blind vendor begins with the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor. Federal law requires that individuals go through the VR Program to be referred to BEP.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselors make referrals (Fact Sheet) of qualified clients who are interested in careers as BEP licensed blind vendors to the BEP Training Unit. The minimum criteria for referral are:
- Certified as legally blind by an ophthalmologist or optometrist
- Not more than 20/200 central visual acuity in the better eye with corrective lens;
- An equally disabling loss of vision, as evidenced by a limitation to the field of vision in the better eye to such a degree that its widest diameter subtends an angle of no greater than 20 degrees.
- Minimum 18 years of age;
- Demonstrated 10th grade math and reading levels;
- High School Diploma or GED;
- Successful completion of psychological and vocational evaluations, as well as a criminal background check with no confirmed felonies; and
- TB testing with confirmed negative results
The BEP Training Unit staff reviews the referral and talks with the VR Counselors and clients to ensure the referral is an appropritate candidate for BEP. If so, the Training Unit staff coordinates dates with the VR Counselor and client for the client to begin the initial training program at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilition (RWS). This training provides an opportunity for the client to work in a BEP snack bar and learn more about the program. If the client succesfully demonstrates the skills and abilities to operate the RWS snack bar, and if the client is still interested in becoming a vendor, the client moves into the next phase of BEP Training.