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State Agencies Join Forces, Creating Training for Visually Impaired

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Business Enterprise Program (BEP) and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education (CTE) have joined together to create a quality educational training for individuals who want to be entrepreneurs and who happen to be blind or have a visual impairment.

OKLAHOMA CITY – This new training began September 6, at Metro Technology Centers on the Springlake campus in Oklahoma City, with three students. Before a person can enter the entrepreneurship program, to be licensed as a small business owner, they must complete the BEP/CTE business training.

BEP Training (10 1)
Left: Dan Goodall, student, recounts what he studied the night before, from memory to Instructor Aprille Franks-Hunt while the other students, Matthew Jones, middle, and Sarah Braden, right, listen.

“Through the partnership with Career and Technical Education (CTE), namely Dr. Phil Berkenbile, OKCTE State Director, and Dom Garrison, Associate State Director, we are able to offer a business-centric education to our clients,” Dr. Michael Jones, DRS Visual Services Administrator, said. “In doing so, we give them a firm foundation in which to operate their business successfully.”

“CTE is in the business of education and have the means to give our clients the cutting-edge training they need to make it in the real world,” Jones said.

Through the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936, adults who are blind are given the opportunity to operate snack bars or vending machine in state, federal and municipal buildings. The act’s purpose begins with “providing blind persons with remunerative employment, enlarging the economic opportunities of the blind, and stimulating the blind to greater efforts in striving to make themselves self-supporting.”

The adults who are blind or visual impaired in BEP are in the training program to become entrepreneurs in Government buildings under The Act. They will learn customer service, labor laws, serving food safely, business trends, business management, balancing the books and much more from professional educators or professionals in the world of business.

Special care was taken in creating the curriculum to ensure accessible materials are available for the students. The students will have materials according to their needs, whether it be large print, Braille or electronic, when they arrive for class.

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Franks praises Goodall for his hard work and achievement in getting all the answers right.
BEP’s Connie Rutz, Administrative Programs Officer, worked closely with Metro Technology Centers’ Larry Hawkins, Industrial Coordinator, to develop the curriculum and logistics for the training.

“Connie worked diligently with Larry to make this training a reality,” Daniel Irwin, BEP Operations Coordinator said. “I am very proud of her and my entire staff for doing whatever needed to be done in getting the new training program started so quickly.”

“BEP is mandated to provide the whole entrepreneurship opportunity and that begins with a quality training program. We teach them how to be successful entrepreneurs through this program and give them the opportunity to reach their dreams,” Jones said.

BEP is a program in the Division of Visual Services that empowers individuals with disabilities to improve employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence and integration into society. As a result, Oklahomans whose disabilities kept them from working become taxpayers each year, eliminating their need for disability benefits and social assistance.

BEP Training (25 2)
Business Enterprises students require different technology depending on their visual ability. Some students use recorders while others take notes.

For More Information Contact

Bonnie James
Media Relations
Metro Technology Center
(405) 595-4730 or

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