Vision and Hearing Screening

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The Vision and Hearing Screening Program at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) works to identify children with vision and hearing disorders who attend any public, private, parochial, denominational school or a Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) licensed child care center and licensed child care home in Texas.

Mission

Preschoolers and school children with hearing and vision problems will be identified early and linked to appropriate remedial services. School children will learn about preventive vision and hearing care. 

Announcements

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Vision or Hearing Screening:  

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a vision or hearing screening. Vision and hearing problems can affect a child’s wellbeing and their ability to learn.   

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for screenings. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of those screens for our records.  
Signs of a possible vision problem include:   

  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Constant eye rubbing
  • Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes

Signs of a possible hearing problem include:   

  • Your child wants volumes louder than other members of the family
  • Your child often says “What?”
  • It seems like your child isn’t listening
  • Your child seems to hear fine sometimes and not others

If you think your child has a vision or hearing problem, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them right away.  

Sincerely,

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Spinal Screening:  

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a spinal screening. Spinal screening can detect abnormal spinal curvatures at an early stage. Early detection is important for controlling spinal deformities.

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for your child to receive a spinal screening. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of the screen for our records.     

Signs your child may have an abnormal spinal curvature:

  • Uneven shoulders or hips
  • Ribs that are prominent or stick out in one area
  • Muscles that are prominent in the lower back or bulge on one side

If you think your child has an abnormal spinal curvature, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them.

Sincerely,

Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Updates  

The program is currently determining if screening rules will be in effect this year due to the extra challenges to schools posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will notify stakeholders as soon as a decision is reached.  In the meantime, for schools who are screening students, please refer to this best practices document for guidance on safely screening children this school year.  

The Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Program (VHSS) will offer virtual Vision and Hearing Basic workshops beginning Sept 1, 2020 for individuals who do not have a current vision and hearing certification.  Please contact the Regional Coordinator for your area for more information and to sign up for training. Regional Coordinator contact information can be found on our website: https://dshs.texas.gov/vhs/regions.shtm   

Please email vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov if you have any questions.

Vision, Hearing, Spinal Screening

Regarding Screening Rules During 2020-2021 School Year  

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Health and Safety Code, Chapter 36 and 25 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 37 require Public, Private, Parochial, and Denominational Schools (Schools) and Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Licensed Child Care Centers and Licensed Child Care Homes (Child Cares) to screen children for vision, hearing and spinal problems.

The Health Screening Group understands the challenges that schools and school districts are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although screening is still required for this school year, DSHS understands the need for flexibility and advises schools and school districts to assess their capacity to safely conduct screenings.  Schools and child cares with the capacity to screen should notify parents and follow best practices previous developed by the department. Parents who choose not to participate at this time may decline screenings.

DSHS recommends schools notify the parents of children who have missed or will miss a screening. This notification should inform parents of the missed screening and encourage them to ask for screenings at their child’s next well-child appointment with their medical provider. If a parent suspects their child has a vision, hearing, or spinal problem they should notify the school nurse or school administration for assistance in obtaining a screening. The Health Screening Group has developed sample letters for parents for vision and hearing screening and spinal screening that schools may use.

The Child Health Reporting System (CHRS) opens for 2020-2021 reporting on January 15 and closes June 30.  School districts and child cares who conducted screenings should enter their screening results as usual.  The schools and child cares who were unable to screen children this year due to COVID-19 should still report in CHRS by entering zeroes in the number fields.  Doing this indicates the school districts and child cares have reported their data and will not appear on the “Did Not Report” list.

Instructions for adding zeroes are located under “Announcements” on our website located at: www.dshs.texas.gov/vhs .  

Please contact the Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Program at vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov if you have questions or concerns.
 

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Vision or Hearing Screening (5th grade reading level):

 

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a vision or hearing screening. Vision and hearing problems can affect a child’s wellbeing and their ability to learn.   

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for screenings. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of those screens for our records.  
Signs of a possible vision problem include:   

  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Constant eye rubbing
  • Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes

Signs of a possible hearing problem include:   

  • Your child wants volumes louder than other members of the family
  • Your child often says “What?”
  • It seems like your child isn’t listening
  • Your child seems to hear fine sometimes and not others

If you think your child has a vision or hearing problem, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them right away.

 

Sincerely,

   

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Spinal Screening (7th grade reading level):

 

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a spinal screening. Spinal screening can detect abnormal spinal curvatures at an early stage. Early detection is important for controlling spinal deformities.

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for your child to receive a spinal screening. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of the screen for our records.     

Signs your child may have an abnormal spinal curvature:

  • Uneven shoulders or hips
  • Ribs that are prominent or stick out in one area
  • Muscles that are prominent in the lower back or bulge on one side  

If you think your child has an abnormal spinal curvature, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them.

 

Sincerely,

   


Schools should follow these guidelines for students to obtain visionhearing and spinal screenings that are receiving in person or online instructions.  

  • Send a letter to parents notifying them in advance that screenings will be conducted on designated dates
  • Request parent to please bring student receiving online instructions to the school so screenings may be performed in accordance with the statutes
  • In lieu of the screening(s) provided by the school:
    1. parents or guardians may provide screening record signed by a licensed professional
    2. parents or guardians may provide signed statement that the vision, hearing or spinal screening conflicts with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination of which the affiant is an adherent or member

SUBJECT: INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING VISION, HEARING AND SPINAL SCREENING ANNUAL REPORTS FOR FACILITIES THAT WERE UNABLE TO SCREEN FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR (ADDING ZEROES).


Vision and Hearing Recertification Workshops 

The DSHS Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Program will be offering virtual Vision and Hearing Recertification workshops effective July 13, 2020 for individuals who have a current vision and hearing certification that will expire December 31, 2020.   

Trainings will be conducted through Microsoft Teams, and will not require specialized software. Participants will need to have a computer, laptop, chrome book, tablet or smart phone with audio/video capability. 

Please contact the Regional Coordinator for your area to sign up, their contact information can be found here.

Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening and Reporting Rules are Waived for 2019-2020 School Year. Optional reporting window for screenings already conducted extended to July 31.  

  • Due to COVID-19 and school closures, in accordance with section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor grants the Department of State Health Services’ request to suspend HSC section 37.001(b), 25 TAC 37.144(c)(1), and 25 TAC 37.145(b)(5) for spinal screening and reporting, and HSC sections 36.004(a), 36.006(d), and 25 TAC 37.23(a), 25 TAC 37.24(a), and 25 TAC 37.26(b)(6) for hearing and vision screening and reporting. This suspension is in effect for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Schools may report screening results of previously performed screenings by July 31st for the 2019-2020 school year if they elect to do so. Results can be submitted to DSHS online at the Child Health Reporting System (CHRS).  If you have any questions, please email VHSSprogram@dshs.texas.gov.

Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Reporting Period Begins January 15 

The reporting period for vision, hearing and spinal screening (VHSS) begins on January 15, 2021.  Results are required to be submitted to the Department of State Health Services online at the Child Health Reporting System (CHRS) by June 30 of each year. View the vision, hearing and spinal screening annual reports flyer. 

The last day to submit your report for this school year is June 30, 2021. After June 30, the reporting system shuts down and late reporting cannot be submitted. 

Expert Panel Provides Recommendations on Using Photoscreening Eye chart to check vision and sound waves radiating to an ear.

The Vision Screening Program determined that current rule allows for the use of photoscreening devices. Texas Administrative Code, Title 25 Part 1, Chapter 37, related to Vision and Hearing Screening, allows for the use of instrument-based devices following the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) guidelines, as revised, as they apply to age, verbal ability, ability to cooperate with screening, allowable methods of screening in different situations, and referral criteria. AAPOS vision screening recommendations indicate that instrument-based devices, such as photoscreeners, are not recommended for use in children 6 years or over and the visual acuity wall chart screening method is preferred. 

In response to stakeholder feedback and as part of HB 3157 implementation activities, the program convened an expert panel to review evidence-based research, best practices, and professional recommendations related to screening children for vision disorders. The meeting was held on the DSHS Main Campus, November 16, 2017. Panelists participated both in person and via conference call. It was an informal, closed meeting and not subject to the open meeting act.

The expert panel provided five recommendations when screening children for vision conditions. View the recommendations.  

Vision Screening Hearing Held March 2018 

The Vision Screening Program held a hearing to accept public comment related to vision screening on March 22, 2018. View the meeting agenda. [PDF 67KB] View the video of the hearing.

House Bill 3157 and Photoscreening Use in Schools 

The Governor signed House Bill (HB) 3157, 85th Legislature, Regular Session 2017. It amends Health and Safety Code, Chapter 36, Special Senses and Communication Disorders and became effective September 1, 2017. HB 3157 does not require that schools use photoscreening technology nor require that schools purchase the equipment. However, it explicitly allows schools to use photoscreening technology as part of the screening process. 

Because current rules allow for the use of photoscreening in a manner that is consistent with American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) recommendations, rules will not need to be amended to implement HB 3157. View the current vision and hearing screening rules. Also, see our vision screening frequent questions. 

Audiometers

An audiometer measures various aspects of a person's ability to hear. To measure hearing accurately and to ensure that all audiometers perform consistently, Texas law requires that they be registered and calibrated. Read more about audiometers.

Contact Us

Texas Department of State Health Services
Vision and Hearing Screening
PO Box 149347, MC 1818, Austin, Texas 78714-9347
1100 West 49th Street, Austin, Texas 78756-3199
Phone: 512-776-7420 or toll free 1-800-252-8023, extension 7420  
Fax: 512-776-7256
Email: vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov 

Relay Texas: Dial 7-1-1 


External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may not be accessible to people with disabilities.

Last updated January 14, 2021