An issue facing up to 30% of our youth and many in the adult population in the state of Washington is the lack of attention on near vision acuity. Due to conditions such as tracking, fusion, stereopsis, convergence insufficiency, and visual motor integration, P-12 students cannot read in a sustained fashion.
On November 8, 2014, Cathy Hardison, JD, PhD, Associate Dean and Professor, presented the issue at the Educating Young Eyes Conference. The Conference was hosted by the University of Washington in Bothell and the panelists consisted of judges and legal analysts from around the state of Washington. The focus was on Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 28A.210.020 and its lack of approval by the State Board of Health for near vision testing in schools. The law allows only distance vision (Snellen Charts) in P-12 schools. Dr. Hardison’s challenge to the panel was to rewrite the RCW to include permission for schools to test near vision acuity.
The revised RCW was presented to the Washington state legislature by concerned teachers, parents, optometrists, physicians, a Seattle City Council member, Dr. Hardison and others. The proposed legislation, HB 1865 Visual Screening in Schools, was reintroduced on April 29, 2015, in the First Special Session, by resolution and was retained in present status. If the bill passage is not successful in this year’s legislative session(s) it will be introduced by the group in 2016.
The legal issues panel will continue their P-K and juvenile justice focus at the next Education Young Eyes Conference scheduled for November 6 and 7, 2015.
In the interim, with the assistance of her colleagues at Heritage University and the University of Washington, Dr. Hardison will continue her work to address this important social justice issue. Plans are underway to design a focused study on the latest nation-wide research coupled with students and professionals in the field of education and medicine to ferret out reliable pre-post instruments with accompanying interventions.
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