FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEN. JOHNSON VISION THERAPY HEARD IN EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Saint Paul, MINN – State Senator Alice Johnson’s legislation to require all Minnesota children to have a comprehensive eye exams before entering kindergarten was heard in the Education Committee today and was laid over for inclusion in the Omnibus bill.
“The 2015 Comprehensive Vision Screening Bill is one way the legislature can address non-academic barriers to learning through early identification and treatment,” Sen. Johnson said. “The new and more comprehensive eye exams will alleviate or prevent many of the learning problems that result from impaired vision.”
Supporters argue that comprehensive eye exams to break down one non-academic barrier to learning. Non-academic barriers to learning can impede upon a student’s ability to learn by not allowing them to be engaged in the classroom or to make the most of their academic learning time. Many children and adults do not realize that the struggles they may have in the classroom or workplace are not linked to intelligence or how hard they are trying. Instead, they may be unable to visually process the information put before them.
Last year, several schools participated in a pilot program, including Centennial High School in Lino Lakes. According to Dana Flanders, a Special Education teacher at the high school, the program has identified there is a strong relationship between vision health and learning. Up to 60 percent of special education students have vision problems and are often misdiagnosed with ADD or special education. The vision therapy program will identify these students and train them to have better educational outcomes.
“This year the legislation is a policy-change that mandates all children need to undergo a comprehensive vision screening test before they enter Kindergarten,” Sen. Johnson said. “The test falls under preventive medical covered under most parents’ insurance policies.”