Illinois Department of Transportation, Ann L. Schneider, Secretary
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2007


Contact:

Brian Williamsen (IDOT) 217-558-0517
Mike Claffey (IDOT) 312-814-3957
Tom Green (IDHS) 217-558-1538


IDOT recognized for 20 years of partnership with IL Committee of Blind Vendors

Rest area vending program highlighted as successful model of entrepreneurship opportunity for the blind

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has been presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors, for 20 years of partnership. The Committee presented a plaque to IDOT’s Bureau Chief of Operations at its Fall Awards Banquet in Rosemont. During the ceremony, IDOT’s rest area vending program for the blind was specifically highlighted as a model of success. The program provides jobs for 34 blind entrepreneurs and their staff, and the IDOT rest area vending stands account for about one-third of the total blind vendor sites in Illinois.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation is proud to work in conjunction with the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “This rest area vending program is a great opportunity for visually impaired members of the community to earn a living, and it is the hard work and professional job done by our blind vendors that has helped make this program successful and allow us to continue providing these services to users of these facilities.”

The rest area vending program is conducted through the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). The IDHS Division of Rehabilitation Services, Bureau of Blind Services helps adults who are blind or visually impaired rediscover their independence and achieve their employment, education, training, and independent living goals.

The Bureau of Blind Services operates the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB), which provides training and career opportunities for people who are blind and visually impaired. The program’s six-month training course includes on-the-job training. The program coordinates a network of vending, food services, cafeterias, and retail stores throughout Illinois, including the vending program for Interstate rest areas.

“It has been a great relationship with IDOT over the years,” said John Gordon, Chairman of the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors. “This program has afforded a lot of blind men and women the ability to make a decent living and find independence.”

"The Illinois equipment is modern and state-of-the-art and the vending locations at Illinois rest areas are viewed as some of the best in the nation by other blind vending rest areas throughout the country," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "And, in addition to their business opportunities, Illinois blind vendors also employ persons with disabilities as their employees."

Motorists will find the stands operated by the 34 blind vendors at all 52 Illinois Department of Transportation rest area buildings. The stands dispense a variety of items, including newspapers, hot drinks, soft drinks, candy, and assorted sundries. All vending equipment is owned by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

For a list of Illinois rest area locations, go to http://www.dot.il.gov/restarea/restmap.html.

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