Summary of Activities
Recognizing the important relationship between vision and the learning process, the 68th Texas legislature passed the Vision and Hearing Screening Program, Health and Safety Code, Chapter 36. One purpose of the Act is to identify those children in need of professional vision and hearing examinations. As a part of comprehensive preschool and school health programming, vision and hearing screening is aimed at detecting problems that could limit the child's educational opportunities.
Vision and Hearing Screening Program:
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.
Vision and Hearing Screening Customers:
School Nurses in all 1,223 School Districts
Licensed Child Care Facilities - Approximately 9,000
Licensed Child Care Homes - 3,000
Private Schools - Approximately 1,100
Education Service Centers - 20
Schools of Nursing and Communication Departments
Local Health Department Personnel
Prevent Blindness Texas
Texas Help Steps Providers
OSHA Registered Individuals in Texas
- Provide information about the mandated screening.
- Make sure that quality training workshops are available for them.
- Provide training in ample time for screenings to be completed by deadlines.
- Respond to requests on time.
- Provide technical help where needed.
- Identify local resources for referral and remedial purposes.
- Identify state resources for referral and remedial purposes.
Reporting facilities are required to submit to the Department of State Health Services, vision, and hearing annual reports online at CHRS Login (texas.gov) by June 30th of each year.
There are approximately 2,700,000 children screened annually for vision and approximately 2,500,000 children screened annually for hearing.
DSHS owns audiometers that are loaned to childcare facilities so that they can meet the obligation of our hearing screening law Chapter 36 of the Health and Safety Code.
DSHS also owns audiometers that are located in the regions for training and loaner purposes.
We only loan DSHS equipment to certified screeners that do not charge a fee for screening.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Because of the law, we are required to register everybody that uses an audiometer in the State of Texas. This includes industrial screening. We do not train them, but they must be registered if they do business in Texas. Industrial trainers certify approximately 300 individuals per year.
Registration of Exempt Individuals
Physicians, audiologists, speech pathologists, hearing aid dispensers, and individuals with at least six hours in audiology are exempt, but still must be registered with DSHS. This simply means filling out a registration card. We have been registering about 325 per year.
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) in San Antonio was the first to have their nursing staff made instructors of vision and hearing screeners in 1985. They certify an average of 200 students each year.
23 schools of nursing have DSHS-authorized vision and hearing instructors. They train approximately 1100 students each year. These students participate in vision and hearing screenings at childcare facilities and schools throughout the state as part of their clinical activities. They are involved and assist in the community.
In 1980, we initiated a program to recruit audiologists and speech pathologists as DSHS-authorized hearing instructors.
In 1993, we looked at the large independent school districts to involve their nurses as vision and hearing instructors to train their staff as screeners. This has helped us in that we can concentrate on more childcare facilities and private schools that are on the increase.
Currently, we have 65 school districts with DSHS-authorized vision and hearing instructors. This enables the school districts to offer workshops at their convenience and frees up our coordinators to conduct other activities. These instructors train approximately 650 individuals annually.
Staff of Physicians and Hospitals
Physicians, especially those that are involved with Texas Health Steps, are having their staff certified even though they could work under the license of the physician. They are certified by Texas Health Steps Provider Relations staff.
We have DSHS-authorized instructors at Parkland Health and Hospital System (Dallas).
Prevent Blindness Texas, a non-profit organization is an affiliate of the National Society to Prevent Blindness. The focus of Prevent Blindness screening effort is to aid in the prevention of eye injury and the detection of vision disorders in young children. The Vision and Hearing Screening Program established a working relationship with Prevent Blindness Texas in 1980.
There are several Prevent Blindness branch offices in the state. They have DSHS-authorized vision instructors that train volunteers to do vision screening. Their volunteers screen an average of 20,000 children a year.
Specialized Safety Training Inc.
We have one DSHS-authorized vision and hearing instructor at this non-profit organization.
Texas Health Steps Provider Relations Regional staff will provide vision and hearing training to providers when necessary.
Vision and hearing workshops are provided to Headstart staff throughout the state.
Teaching and Mentoring Communities
We also provide training for Texas Migrant Council Personnel. There is one DSHS-authorized instructor on the Texas Migrant Council staff that provides training to their personnel.
There are individuals and screening services that have gone into the screening business for profit. They have to be DSHS certified. DSHS does not have anything to do with the fee they charge for each screen. We do monitor them. There are also some national companies trying to get involved in the screening for a fee in the State of Texas. DSHS does not endorse any individuals or companies, but we check and make sure they are certified and know the mandated screening criteria and reporting procedures.
We have received many requests from individuals that were certified screeners in Texas but moved to other states that did not require vision and hearing screening.
There have been requests for copies of our manuals and the law from out of state.
They are as follows:
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Florida, Leon County School District
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Maryland State Department of Education
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Oregon, Medford
- University of Mississippi
- Utah School Nurses Association
- Westover, WV Vision, and Eye Health Initiatives
- Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing
We have also received requests from Saudi Arabia and Wroclaw, Poland.