BSBP 2017 Annual Report


FY 2017 Annual Report

Core Values



Demand Driven Employment





Positive Mental Attitude



Transparency/Open Communication



Letter from the Director

BSBP experienced many new challenges during its fiscal year 2017.  New, implementing regulations related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) became effective. The mandatory reservation of 15% of BSBP’s VR allotment to be expended on Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) created fiscal and service delivery challenges. WIOA federal mandates further added to the complexity of case service documentation by adding numerous data elements and frequencies in reporting.

Despite these and other challenges, BSBP fully matched its federal grants and finished its fiscal year within budget!

With the leadership change at the top, the BSBP team identified key core values and began the process of strategic planning which included challenging organizational processes and structure and prioritizing the WIOA federal mandates. Out of the initial meetings, BSBP re-purposed one of its managers to focus on developing programs to further implement Pre-Employment Transition Services.  Training needs were identified and BSBP responded by bringing in subject matter experts from the Technical Assistance Centers funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

BSBP also worked hard to build strong connections to its public stakeholders. Leadership met with representatives of consumer groups, for example, to gather feedback and better understand the challenges unique to blind citizens in Michigan.

The foundation of the VR program is the principle that individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, are capable of achieving high quality competitive integrated employment when provided the necessary services and supports. With public feedback and the collaboration of BSBP’s partner agencies and community organizations, BSBP executes this foundational VR program principle.

As the Bureau Director, I am very proud to have been associated with team members who exhibit excellence, commitment and passion in serving the blind and visually impaired residents of the State of Michigan.

William A. Robinson, III

Director, Bureau of Services for Blind Persons

Bill Robinson holding the Beacon Award standing with Annie Riddering, Brian Sabourin and Michial Poyma

Bill Robinson holding the Beacon Award from the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services(MCRS). Pictured with Bill are MCRS Council Members (L – R) Annie Riddering, Brian Sabourin, Michael Poyma


BSBP utilizes federal and state funds to provide its programs and services to the public.  For Vocational Rehabilitation Title I Funds, each federal grant dollar must be matched with non-federal dollars equal to 21.3 percent in order to be available for expenditure.  For federal fiscal year (FFY) 2017, the Department of Education through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) allotted $17,263,000 in Title I grants to BSBP.  BSBP fully matched the FFY 17 federal Title I grant amounts.  The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires 15 percent of the total federal allotment of VR Title I grants to be reserved for the provision of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS).  The FFY 17 Pre-ETS reservation of funds equated to $2,589,450.

The BSBP had a total operating budget for FFY 17 of $24,639,400.  In meeting its FFY 17 budget, BSBP fully utilized its FFY 16 Title I carryover of $1,620,454, Independent Living Older Blind (ILOB) FFY 16 carryover of $704,067 and Independent Living Part B (IL Part B) FFY 16 carryover of $147,866.

For its FFY 18, BSBP will carryforward from FFY 17 $1,094,735 of unreserved VR Title I funds; $1,573,705 of reserved Pre-ETS Title I funds; $531,208 of ILOB funds; and, $73,422 of IL Part B funds.   

Vocational Rehabilitation Division and Independent Living Division

The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program has experienced some extensive changes in the last few years due to the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  A greater emphasis has been placed on Pre-Employment Transition Services and finding innovative ways to serve this population.  Staff continues to serve BSBP VR clients and dedicate themselves towards competitive closures. The Independent Living (IL) program participated in the Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) Technical Assistance Center from Mississippi State University.  This technical assistance program focused on strategies that will improve and enhance the delivery of services to seniors that are blind and visually impaired. As the program embraces the concept of applying specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals, enhancements will be evident from referrals to closures, producing timely services and improved data collection.

By the Numbers

VR opened 1,267 cases

VR placed 161 clients in competitive integrated employment

ILOB served 460 consumers

IL Part B served 152 consumers

Diana Engle works at her desk while on the job at the Michigan History Museum.

Photo caption Diana Engle works at her desk while on the job at the Michigan History Museum.


Operationalizing WIOA regulations released in final form September 2016.

RSA announced that Michigan and four other states would be next in the monitoring process.  BSBP management, VR, Administrative Services, BSBPTC and Pre-ETS personnel spent the early weeks of summer preparing for the site visit, pulling records and case files and responding to specific RSA requests.  The RSA monitoring site visit was completed in July and follow-up continues.

The 2016 Performance Audit was completed and staff were required to review all active cases included in the audit.

The Single Statewide Audit commenced and closed with no findings.

The OPT follow-up audit to the 2016 Performance Audit commenced.

VR launches its 911 Common Performance Measures training, followed by VR review of every case to update and complete missing data elements.

Counselors and teachers received specialized training including Labor Market Information, Ethics, Guardian Responsibilities, Data Element training to assist with Federal reporting, and Technical Assistance regarding transition services for Pre-Employment Transition Services students.

WIOA required Homemaker cases to be closed by June 30, 2017 and IL program staff worked with counselors to ensure BSBP met this deadline.

OIB-TAC was engaged to provide technical assistance for BSBP’s independent older blind population – the first and second site visit were completed.

Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

The 15% Pre-ETS reserve substantially impacted the BSBP budget.

WINTAC Pre-ETS training was completed in June.

New Pre-ETS partnerships were formed with NFB and Leader Dogs.

A new brochure was developed to help promote BSBP’s Pre-ETS programs.

Work began on producing a Pre-ETS video.

Cover of the newly developed Pre-ETS brochure featuring transition students

Photo caption Cover of the newly developed Pre-ETS brochure featuring transition students

Working with Partners

FY 2016 ICTA’s and MOU’s were renewed.

An innovative WMU ICTA was signed re-purposing a counselor for on-campus direct services to college age and college bound students.

Workforce MOU’s were completed.

Workforce Infrastructure Agreement negotiations kicked off.

VR participated in Business Engagement events statewide.

VR participated in Employment First Initiatives.

Bill Robinson and Collette Bauman of MDE-LIO partner at the Braille Challenge held in Flint

Photo caption Bill Robinson and Collette Bauman of MDE-LIO partner at the Braille Challenge held in Flint.

Training Center Division

The Training Center has continued to meet the needs and challenges of the clients it serves. Staff has updated curriculums and researched classes for the future that will better serve clients in gaining skills of independence and skills of employment that they can utilize in the workplace.

By the Numbers

BSBPTC served 181 consumers

BSBPTC hosted 4 Pre-ETS summer programs

BSBPTC added/updated 5 curriculums

KFC – Kitchen Fundamentals Class

EFE – Essential Fundamentals for Employment

Retail Management

Manual Skills Assessment (not curriculum but an additional service that the TC is offering)

Manual Skills program now includes the ability for students to work with Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) equipment.


The BSBPTC revised its calendar to pick up additional instruction time to the benefit of our clients.

The BSBPTC organized and successfully executed mini-adjustment programs that resulted in referrals to the TC.

BSBPTC repurposed Shannon McVoy to serve as Statewide Transition Manager.

BSBPTC completed construction projects that were necessary to improve the efficiencies of the state building. 

Training Center teacher Dave Bowden providing Manual Assessment with a TC student

Photo caption Training Center teacher Dave Bowden providing Manual Assessment with a TC student.

Administrative Services Division

The Administrative Services Section provides a wide array of business functions supporting BSBP.  FY17 was a challenging year for Administrative Services, but outcomes were very positive.  Administrative Services staff worked closely with other BSBP staff and systems contractors to update systems for WIOA compliance, prepared for the implementation of the State’s new accounting and time management system, and for the first time, recovered over $1,000,000 in Social Security reimbursements resulting in program income for BSBP programs.  In addition, Administrative Services staff have been an integral part of the preparation for a migration to a new case management system that has served BSBP for 27 years.

Business Enterprise Program

The Business Enterprise Program had a very successful year in collaboration with the licensed operators that participate in the program.  Gross sales across BEP rose 12% in FY17 to $10,781,535.  Average earnings for BEP licensed operators also increased 16% to $61,843. 

By the Numbers

BEP has 56 total facilities (including vending sites) 

BEP has 52 total licensed operators

BEP total leased vending machines:

141 leased machines

96 bottler owned soda machines with leased card readers and telemetry