The sensory aspects of the courses would be beneficial to any child; the information that is shared is priceless.
— Jean, WA
In September 2011, The Hadley School for the Blind announced the launch of The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE). The goal of this new business, entrepreneurship and technology program is to provide individuals who are visually impaired with the knowledge, resources and networking opportunities enabling them to advance in their careers or to successfully launch and grow their own businesses.
The program is designed to be practical, relevant and interactive. Courses are open to anyone who is blind or visually impaired, over age 14 and is serious about starting or growing a business. Coursework is offered free of charge and is mostly online. Since the FCE opened in September, more than 400 students have enrolled.
As of June 4, 2012, Hadley has introduced five new "modules" as part of the Center:
"Using PowerPoint 2010" introduces the steps in creating a presentation in PowerPoint and discusses what is involved with making a formal presentation to an audience. The module includes an exercise in preparing a slide show presentation.
"Networking with LinkedIn" describes the social networking site and its importance as a networking tool. It presents the basics of getting started with LinkedIn, such as opening an account, creating a profile, and adding connections. It also explores some of LinkedIn's more popular features. The module includes an exercise in preparing your personal profile.
"Networking Skills" presents three common networking techniques: establishing or identifying new relationships, expanding on these relationships, and then maintaining these established relationships. The module includes links to a number of social networking sites, as well as an exercise in outlining your personal networking strategy.
"Obtaining Financing" presents the two basic types of financing: debt financing and equity financing, and their advantages and disadvantages. It also discusses primary funding sources such as family and friends, traditional banks, and business angels, along with secondary funding sources such as crowd financing, microlenders, and federal government loans.
"Federal Government Benefits" explores the federal government benefits programs available to those who are visually impaired. Monetary programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security retirement are discussed, along with insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, and Medigap. Work incentive programs such as the Ticket to Work program and state vocational rehabilitation, as well as how to retain government benefits while working, are also presented.
In addition to the new modules, the FCE has introduced three new tools-the FCE Discussion Group, Minding Your Own Business (MYOB) and the Business Directory. The Discussion Group is a conventional mailing list, where members can discuss any aspects of starting and running a business by posting questions or responses. In addition, list members are encouraged to use these contacts for networking among each other. FCE-related announcements will also be posted on the list.
Minding Your Own Business (MYOB) is a series of business-related online discussions around specific pre-determined topics, based on students' needs. The format of MYOB is relatively flexible; usually it will start with a short presentation followed by open discussion. The next MYOB is "Social Networking for Your Business" and is scheduled for June 4 at 2:00 p.m. Central Time.
The Business Directory includes contact information for businesses owned or operated by blind and visually impaired individuals. This directory is designed to provide current and future business owners with inspiration and access to the listed businesses, with the goal of initiating networking opportunities among blind and visually impaired business owners.
"I'm very excited about the launch of these new modules and resources. They cover several different areas of expertise needed to launch or grow a business-from practical issues such as financing, to essential 'soft skills' such as networking to utilizing technology such as LinkedIn and PowerPoint. I'm confident our students will find them interesting and valuable," says Program Director Tom Babinszki.
For more information on the FCE and to enroll, please visit www.hadley.edu/fce.