Vision & Hearing at School
why schools do vision & hearing screenings
Adequate vision and hearing are paramount to educational performance. Impaired vision and/or hearing in children can seriously impede learning and contribute to the development of educational, emotional and behavioral problems. Early discovery and treatment can prevent or at least alleviate many of these problems. Children experiencing hearing or vision loss often are not aware they do not hear or see as they should. For this reason, it is up to the adults responsible for the child’s health care and educational process to identify those children with hearing or vision problems and to make sure they receive the appropriate follow-up care. Annual vision & hearing screenings are mandated by the state of Illinois.
Hearing loss can happen anytime during life (from before birth to adulthood). There are many causes of hearing loss, including genetics, infections, noise, aging, trauma and some medications. Hearing loss seriously affects a child’s ability to communicate because it interferes with the development of normal language and learning. It may affect a child’s ability to develop normal speech and serves to isolate the child from everyday surroundings, including parents, other family members and playmates. It may be harder to detect hearing loss in children with long-term loss because they do not know what it is like to hear normal.
Infants can be born unable to see; however, vision loss can occur anytime during a person’s life. Vision loss can be caused by damage to the eye itself, or by the eye being shaped incorrectly or even by a problem in the brain. In the United States, the most prevalent disabling childhood conditions are vision disorders, including amblyopia, strabismus and significant refractive errors. Early detection increases the likelihood of effective treatment and even correction if caught early! Children may not complain about not being able to see correctly, but adults may notice some signs: Spotting Eye Problems
Contact the school nurse if your child has a known vision or hearing loss and may require special accommodations during the school day. Students with a known vision or hearing loss are not typically screened by the school nurse; however, a report from the treating physician is necessary in order to fully understand all of your child's needs.
Eye Examination Requirement: Kindergarten & Enrolling in Illinois School For First Time
- All children entering kindergarten or an Illinois school for the first time, shall present proof of having been examined by a physician who performs eye examinations or an optometrist.
- The required eye examination shall be completed within one year prior to the first day of the school year in which the child enters kindergarten or the child enters the Illinois school system for the first time, whether in a public, private, or parochial school.
- An eye examination shall include history, visual acuity, subjective refraction to best visual acuity near and far, internal and external examination, and a glaucoma evaluation, as well as any other tests or observations that in the professional judgment of the doctor are necessary. Optometrists shall also include measurements of binocular acuity and ocular motility, and color vision screening in the required eye examination.
- The eye examination results shall be recorded on the State of Illinois Eye Exam Report form (see far right).
Vision & hearing screenings at school
Vision & Hearing Screenings are mandated at specific age and grade levels and must be done by technicians/nurses trained and certified by the Department of Public Health.
Hearing screening must be provided annually for preschool children 3 years of age or older in any public or private educational program or licensed child care facility, and for children in kindergarten, first, second and third; are in special education class; have been referred by a teacher; or are transfer students.
Vision screening must be provided annually for preschool children 3 years of age or older in any public or private educational program or licensed child care facility, and for children in kindergarten, second and eighth grades; are in special education class; have been referred by a teacher; or are transfer students.
Objections: The parent or legal guardian of a student may object to hearing or vision screening tests for their children on religious grounds. If a religious objection is made, a written and signed statement from the parent or legal guardian detailing such objections must be presented to the local school authority.
(Screening instruments, test procedures and referral criteria are defined in the Illinois Administrative Code (see LAWS & RULES). Children whose test results meet referral criteria are referred to an eye doctor or family physician for further evaluation.)