The Randolph Sheppard Vendor Program

Program Scope:

The Randolph Sheppard Act was enacted into law in 1936 and has been amended several times since. The intent of the legislation provides for the gainful employment of individuals who are legally blind to operate vending facilities in federal, state, or county facilities. The licensed vendor may work in a variety of settings including vending machine routes, snack bars or cafeterias.

Your state's Division of Rehabilitation Services functions as the state licensing agency which is responsible for providing training, licensure, and equipment, and beginning inventory for each vendor. Even though these supports are provided, the Randolph Sheppard vendor is self-employed and must possess the aptitude and abilities required to function as a business owner and manager, along with good interpersonal skills.

Program Requirements:

  • In order to be considered for the Randolph Sheppard program, the individual MUST be legally blind, with a visual acuity of no better than 20/200 in the better eye with best correction, or have visual fields of 20 degrees or less.
  • The individual must be a citizen of the United States.
  • The individual must possess basic academic skills needed to run a business including:
    • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
    • Ability to perform basic math including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and percentages.
    • Ability to read either Braille or printed material, with or without use of such accommodations as optical character scanners or audio text.
    • Ability to write either in Braille, handwriting, or keyboarding.
    • Ability to perform or delegate all accounting practices required by federal, state, county, and city laws, ordinances, statutory rules and regulations, including that of the Randolph Sheppard program.
  • The potential vendor must be able to perform all physical activities demanded of a licensed vendor including:
    • Ability to lift 35 pounds.
    • Ability to stand for extended periods of time.
    • Ability to stoop, kneel and bend.
    • Motor coordination to stock machines.
    • Ability to communicate with customers.
    • Ability to count change, either tactilely or visually.
    • Ability to identify paper currency, with or without a bill identifier with speech or braille output.
    • Ability to travel independently (this does not mean driving yourself, although if you are a bioptic driver, you could.)

Because customer service is the hallmark of a good vendor the potential candidate must have good personal social interaction skills. Therefore, other essential abilities include:

  • Ability to deal with the public in a courteous manner.
  • Client ability will be evaluated based on personal observation of interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to develop and maintain a working relationship with others.
  • Ability to handle problems which might occur at the facility.
  • Ability to respectively respond to concerns of customers, Randolph Sheppard staff, employees, staff of Blind Services, Building Management, etc.

If you are interested in a vendor position contact your state's Rehabilitation Agency, Services for the Blind to inquire and apply.

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