Vision and Hearing Screening
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 childcare center and licensed childcare home in Texas.
Preschoolers and school children with hearing and vision problems will be identified early and linked to appropriate remedial services. School children will learn about the preventive vision and hearing care.
HB 1297 took effect on September 1, 2023. The DSHS Vision, Hearing, and Spinal Screening Program (VHSS) is working to update program rules and policies, as soon as practicable, to reflect the language in HB 1297. In the interim, VHSS advises facilities to continue following current rules until further notice.
The Vision, Hearing, and Spinal Screening Program at the Texas Department of State Health Services has released the 2022 Childhood Vision Screening Expert Panel Report. The 2022 Childhood Vision Screening Expert Panel Recommendations were previously released for public comment from January 3, 2023 – January 10, 2023. The report is available here 2022 Childhood Vision Screening Expert Panel Report. If you have questions email the program at VHSSprogram@dshs.texas.gov.
Regarding Screening Rules During the 2023-2024 School Year
COVID-19 Recommendations for the 2023-2024 School Year
The Health Screening Group recommends that screeners follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning We have taken the CDC guidance that applies to school screening and developed these best practices (updated January 2023). Schools must also follow any additional steps that are required by their facility.
Remember that any equipment touched or used by students during the screening process must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. Examples include reusable eye occluders and audiometer headsets.
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.
Vision, Hearing, and Spinal Screening Reporting Period Begins January 15
The reporting period for vision, hearing, and spinal screening (VHSS) begins on January 15. 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 30th. After June 30th, the reporting system shuts down and late reporting cannot be submitted.
Expert Panel Provides Recommendations on Using Photo-screening
The Vision Screening Program determined that the current rule allows for the use of photo-screening 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 photo screeners, 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, on 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.
House Bill 3157 and Photo-screening 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 photo screening technology nor require that schools purchase the equipment. However, it explicitly allows schools to use photo screening technology as part of the screening process.
Because current rules allow for the use of photo screening 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 for frequent questions.
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.
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