State Policies

New York State Policies

New York State Commission for the Blind 

Policy Summary on Self-Employment:

NYSCB considers self-employment to be a viable vocational option for “participants who have the skills, interests, resources, and supports to develop and manage their own business.” Participants interested in self-employment are encouraged to review the NYSCB’s policies and procedures regarding self-employment services, as well as New York State laws pertaining to business establishment, with a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. If self-employment is deemed an appropriate employment outcome for a participant, NYSCB can offer them self-employment-related services and support based on their individual needs. NYSCB support can include referrals to community resources for business start-up or management courses, the purchase of goods and services listed in an approved Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), and the purchase of additional VR services that will help the participant achieve self-employment. NYSCB can also provide business funding to VR-eligible individuals who are already self-employed. 

All individuals interested in self-employment must participate in an assessment designed to evaluate whether self-employment is an appropriate choice. During the assessment, the participant and VR counselor discuss topics related to the participant’s interest in and capacity for business ownership, including prior work experience, their social skills, their physical and mental capabilities, and their ability to research and secure outside funding for the business. The VR counselor also conducts a formal assessment using NYSCB’s Self-Employment Inventory which covers four areas: Entrepreneurial Characteristics, Personal, Financial Responsibility, and Business.  

If the assessment and the Self-Employment Inventory indicate self-employment is a viable vocational goal, the participant must develop a business plan. If needed, the VR counselor refers the participant to resources that can help them develop the plan. The final business plan must comprehensively describe the participant’s proposed business.  

The VRC conducts an initial review and then sends the business plan to the Self-Employment Review team to check for deficiencies and evaluate the business’s viability. After the issues highlighted by the Self-Employment review team are corrected, the VR counselor schedules a meeting with the self-employment committee to formally evaluate the plan. The committee is comprised of the VR counselor, a senior counselor, the district manager, one or more members of the NYSCB Self-Employment Review Team, and a representative from the business community.  

If the business plan is reviewed by the committee and approved by the VR and senior counselors, the participant’s IPE is updated to include Self-Employment Services, which allows the VR counselor to purchase the goods and services listed in the business plan. The VR counselor is responsible for providing the participant with the services identified in their IPE, but the participant must implement the business plan themselves. 

NYSCB cannot be the sole source of funding for the participant’s business; NYSCB’s financial contributions are limited to $15,000 for services included in the business plan. NYSCB will fund purchases such as initial inventory, business-related equipment, initial business licenses, advertising, office supplies, legal and accounting services, and business-related insurance. NYSCB will not fund long-term expenses like rent and utilities for more than three months. 

Once the business has been established, the participant must submit quarterly financial reports to NYSCB until case closure. Case closure occurs when the individual has achieved the employment outcome listed in the IPE, the employment aligns with the capabilities and interests, the employment is in the most integrated setting possible, and the VR counselor and the individual are both satisfied with the employment outcome. Case closure can only be initiated if the individual has been employed for at least 90 consecutive days.      

New York Blind VR Policy Manual: