Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) introduced the See the Board Act, legislation directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make grants available for nonprofit organizations that provide cost-free, mobile vision services for students in public elementary and secondary schools.
Due to inequitable access to vision care, it is estimated that more than two million students nationwide go to school each day without the glasses they need to fully participate and succeed in the classroom.
While vision services for low-income families, including a free pair of glasses for children, are covered under Medicaid, many eligible families face barriers, from the cost of vision care to child care to access to transportation, that prevent them from accessing these services. The See the Board Act would provide nonprofits with the federal funding needed to purchase portable optometry equipment and to pay for operational costs, including direct health care, service delivery costs, and personal protective equipment.
“No child should be prevented from experiencing the full benefits of an education because they cannot see the board at the front of their classroom. We know that too many working families can’t afford to miss work to travel for an eye doctor’s appointment or simply can’t afford to seek this care for their kids. My See the Board Act will ensure that cost is not a barrier for K-12 students by bringing no-cost vision care directly to them,” said Rep. Schiff, author of the See the Board Act.
“Visually impaired students who lack access to optometry services are at risk of struggling to learn and falling behind in school. According to the American Optometric Association, school-aged children should receive their first eye exam before first grade and annually thereafter. Many families are in serious need of affordable vision and eye care.” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05). “This legislation aims to eliminate barriers and allow children to concentrate and stay engaged. The See the Board Act will bring mobile vision services directly to schools in underserved communities and ensure children receive critical vision care.”
“For several years, Los Angeles Unified School District has partnered with non-profit organizations to bring free vision exams and glasses to K-12 students, an absolutely critical service for learning opportunity. To this end, we proudly support the See the Board Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Schiff. This legislation supports this important service that our non-profit partners bring to the students of the district, and greatly assists our goal of preparing our students to graduate ready for the world,” said Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District.
“More than 3 million children across the country lack the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or fully participate in class. School-based vision services are the best way to reach kids in underserved communities who are otherwise going without eye care. The See the Board Act will help many more children receive this critical educational tool and thrive in the classroom,” said Ann Hollister, President, Vision To Learn.
“Every parent knows the stress of getting their children to important doctor’s appointments. The See the Board Act will help families by bringing vital vision screenings directly to children in schools, promoting early identification of vision impairment and timely treatment, and keeping them on the path to academic and career success,” said Michael Repka, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist, and Medical Director for Governmental Affairs for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.