Maui News

Pair of bills will help improve keiki hearing, vision screening statewide

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Courtesy: Office of the Governor

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health joined child health advocates as Gov. David Y. Ige signed HB 986 and HB 987, two bills to expand and improve keiki hearing and vision screening.

HB 986 mandates reporting to DOH of the results of diagnostic hearing tests for infants failing newborn hearing screening or who are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing up to age 3 years. Earlier diagnosis is important for better outcomes.

This measure will ensure that infants who fail their newborn hearing screening will receive diagnostic testing.

Keiki who are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing will be referred for early intervention, which includes speech, language, and hearing services.

HB 987 will set statewide standards for the keiki hearing and vision screenings conducted in schools. This will increase the early identification of hearing and vision loss in children to support the development of language and communication skills needed for learning.

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It will also set standards for follow-up and screener training and certification.

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“We know that early childhood development establishes the foundation for our keiki to succeed in school and in life,” said Deputy Director of Health Resources Administration Danette Wong Tomiyasu. “Early diagnosis and intervention will ensure these keiki reach learning milestones and have every opportunity to succeed. Mahalo to the advocates for their persistence in fighting for these changes, and Governor Ige and our legislators for prioritizing the health of our keiki.”

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