Customer Engagement

Yoke Payments and a Micro Market Empowers the Visually Impaired in Wisconsin

January 18, 2019 | By Michael Johnson

Yoke Payments and a Micro Market Empowers the Visually Impaired in Wisconsin

If there are certain lessons in life that should be shared and repeated, empowering individuals to be confident and believe in their abilities is at the top of the list. Especially when those individuals may have a form of visual impairment. Yoke Payments has recently teamed up with the Randolph Sheppard Vendors of Wisconsin to support employment opportunities for these individuals and empower them to be their own entrepreneurs and business operators.

The Randolph Sheppard Vendors of Wisconsin, or RSVW, is a nonprofit dedicated to improving economic and employment opportunities for blind individuals. Committed to carrying out the Randolph-Sheppard Act, a federal law mandating priority to blind people in operating vending facilities, RSVW strives to lower the unemployment rate and increase self-sufficiency for the visually impaired.

Currently, the unemployment rate for blind individuals in Wisconsin is 70% with many barriers to entry. Companies like RSVW are committed to providing these individuals with the resources and guidance to gain employment. This process often begins with a skills assessment which places individuals in positions best suited to help them succeed. If these skills are lacking, they instead will receive training or a referral to a technical college to gain these skills that will allow them access to employment opportunities in vending facilities.

Many of these opportunities arise in micro-markets which are often small convenience stores in places like office buildings. The visually impaired receive the resources and tools to operate these markets and earn an income.

“We look at all potential candidates as a person who has the potential as an entrepreneur. We want to train them on how to actively manage their own business and succeed in this industry,” said Kent Walser, executive director of the program.

The tool that makes this possible is Yoke Payments – a payments and inventory system app – developed by business partners Michael Johnson and Benjamin Thomas. Yoke Payments combines the mobile wallet and cash register to create a simplified payment solution for its operators and their customers in the micro-market and vending industries. End users of the payment solution are asked to simply: Scan. Pay. Enjoy. The self-checkout point of sale system uses a tablet or mobile device and allows users to quickly and efficiently grab their desired items and checkout with no wait. By providing real-time inventory updates on an affordable self-checkout platform Yoke allows the individuals operating these micro-markets a low-cost and straightforward way to accomplish their goals.

Not only does Yoke make the checkout process more manageable because of the way it eliminates the need for cash handling, but also the very technology it operates on caters to those who have vision impairment. Utilizing Apple iPads and their technology, many features further enhance the ease of use for employees. For example, voice overs are enabled on these devices and controlled through gestures and image recognition software. Apple products also include several display accommodations where users can zoom in on information, adjust font size, and invert colors.

The seamless integration of Apple devices supporting Yoke Payment systems in carrying out the mission of RSVW represents an excellent opportunity for businesses and the visually impaired throughout the nation. The partnership focuses on accessibility and creating independence for not only its employees but also customers who conduct the transaction themselves.

Yoke is proud to support what RSVW is doing and looks forward to expanding services to other chapters around the country.


Michael Johnson