Campaign launched to make eye tests available in every special school

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Thousands of vulnerable children with disabilities are missing out on crucial eye care, despite the high risk of sight problems, according to a new report from UK charity SeeAbility

‘An equal right to sight’ shows nearly four in ten (37%) pupils attending special schools have no history of eye tests; a figure made worse as children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other children.

There are 100,000 children in special schools in England and if these findings are replicated nationwide 37,000 children with disabilities are missing out on the eye care they need. The report forms part of the charity’s Children in Focus campaign launched this month.

It says it’s unacceptable that there is no national plan to meet the eye care needs of children with disabilities and calls on the government to make sight tests available in every special school in England.

The report draws evidence from the charity’s research project with Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. SeeAbility’s team has been delivering specialist sight tests to pupils in a cluster of London based special schools since October 2013.The pilot scheme has since extended to seven schools.

David Scott-Ralphs, SeeAbility’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The government needs to make it easier for children with disabilities to get a sight test. Making sight tests available in every special school in England would be a start in making the reforms needed and help thousands of children with disabilities.’

Readers can watch SeeAbility’s campaign video here and/or sign its online petition, which will be presented to the Department of Health.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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