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Labor and Economic Opportunity

State Director of Services for the Blind Awarded Top Honors by the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services

Bill Robinson accepts 2017 Beacon Award for exemplary leadership, business acumen

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280

October 27, 2017 - Bill Robinson, director of LARA’s Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) today received the 2017 Beacon Award from the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services (MCRS) in recognition of his dedication to providing the highest quality of vocational rehabilitation services to Michigan citizens with low vision and blindness. MCRS Chairperson Brian Sabourin and MCRS Vice Chairperson Anne Riddering presented the award to Robinson at the BSBP’s 2017 Honor Roll Awards for customer achievements in Lansing.

BSBP Director Bill Robinson accepting 2017 Beacon Award“We are absolutely thrilled Bill received this prestigious award which he so richly deserves,” said LARA Director Shelly Edgerton. “The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons has thrived under Bill’s direction. His passion for serving the needs of people with blindness, low vision, and other disabilities is unparalleled. Bill has broadened the direction of BSBP’s programming and expanded partnerships that greatly benefits our BSBP customers as they gain the skills necessary for greater independence and successful employment.”

Robinson was selected as the 2017 Beacon Award recipient after completing his first year of state service as director of the BSBP. The MCRS attributed Bill’s exemplary leadership in upholding the mission of the BSBP, his highly effective management of the BSBP’s finances, and empowerment of staff and service system, resulting in the highest quality of vocational rehabilitation services for Michigan citizens with low vision and blindness.

The MCRS membership bestows its Beacon Award annually to honor an individual or group within state government, statewide partners, or the legislature, whose outstanding leadership and tenacious spirit have contributed to the ongoing success of the public vocational rehabilitation (VR) service system in Michigan and the customers it serves.

“Bill Robinson is the consummate professional, as evidenced by his innovative leadership, business savvy, commitment to partnerships, and dedication to augment systems change for Michigan citizens with low vision and blindness who are served by the BSBP system,” said Sabourin. “The results of his work are seen in the professional growth and development of the BSBP staff, and the programming and financial operations of the BSBP. Bill has totally embraced the opportunity to partner with the MCRS. He actually surpassed our criteria for the award.” 

Criteria for Beacon Award recipients includes:

  • commitment and dedication to the organization’s mission;
  • strong organizational and financial management;
  • exemplary leadership that empowers staff, colleagues and/or partners;
  • innovative thinking, leading to systems change benefitting persons with disabilities;
  • professional development activities; and,
  • effective collaborator who embraces partnerships to produce positive results enhancing the public VR system.

Robinson was named director of the BSBP in September 2016 and oversees the state agency that is responsible for providing vocational rehabilitation, independent living and employment training services available to Michigan’s 200,000 blind and visually impaired citizens. He also oversees operations of the BSBP’s Training Center in Kalamazoo, the Braille and Talking Book Library in Lansing, and seven offices located throughout the state that administer a wide range of services including the BSBP’s Business Enterprise Program, services for youth and seniors, and deaf blind services. Currently, there are more than 228,000* citizens in Michigan with a prevalence for vision loss and that number is expected to increase as baby boomers age.

Robinson, a certified public accountant (CPA), previously served as president/CEO of the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services. Prior to becoming visually impaired resulting from a hunting accident in 2001, Robinson was the chief financial officer of National Linen Service, a division of National Service Industries. Robinson received vision rehabilitation services from the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta, GA. He holds a BS in business administration, with a major in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The MCRS is the state’s rehabilitation council as mandated in the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Located in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the MCRS is autonomous, functioning separately in its oversight of the state’s vocational rehabilitation agencies. As a consumer-driven, governor-appointed, statewide organization, the MCRS reviews, analyzes and advises Michigan’s rehabilitation programs and services, and advises the MDHHS and governor.

For more information about the BSBP, visit
or call toll-free: 800-292-4200, (TTY 888-864-1212.)
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* American Foundation for the Blind (2013)