“Not being able to see or hear well significantly impacts a child’s ability to learn. The Lighthouse Foundation is taking a data-driven holistic approach to understanding the pervasiveness of these and other health barriers to learning so that we can amass the resources necessary to help children overcome these barriers. It is wonderful to be a part of a leadership group that is taking an analytical approach to understand how we can work together to ensure all children learn to read.”

David Paule, Executive Director

When children can’t see or hear well, the odds are stacked against their staying on track and learning to read well by the end of third grade. With nearly 2 million uninsured people in Georgia, the Lighthouse Foundation is committed to filling the gaps to ensure that all Georgians have access to the low-cost vision and hearing services they need to become proficient readers.

Although Georgia law currently requires that all children receive vision and hearing screenings before enrolling in a public kindergarten, a number of barriers—income, lack of health insurance, language barriers, education level, lack of reliable transportation, absence of providers in the community, not understanding the problem and importance of timely treatment—prevent many children and families from accessing the follow-up services they need. Nationally, nearly 40 percent of children who were screened and referred didn’t receive the recommended follow-up care.

When children don’t receive the eyeglasses and hearing aids they need, they are often misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and assigned to special education while the underlying issue goes untreated and they fall further behind.

The Lighthouse Foundation works with a statewide network to provide vision screenings, eye exams, eyeglasses, eye surgeries, and hearing aids to more than 7,000 Georgia residents—mostly school-age children—each year. It manages four mobile vision clinics that travel across the state providing eye exams and eyeglasses to students and has established partnerships with audiologists and other specialists across the state to provide screenings and hearing aids.

The Lighthouse Foundation is partnering with the Chief Turnaround Office at the Georgia Department of Education to identify best practices for addressing the health barriers to learning in Title 1 schools, and building the capacity of teachers and school administrators to recognize the signs that a child might have vision or hearing problems so they can respond appropriately.

To learn more about the Lighthouse Foundation, visit their website.