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Established in 1994, Helen Keller Intl’s US-based vision work helps students reach their true potential by providing in-school vision screenings, eye exams, and no-cost prescription glasses

New York, NY (October 31, 2022) – On October 31, 2022, Helen Keller Intl will reach a major milestone: its NY Vision team will provide free vision services to its one-millionth New York City student at the Academy for College Preparation and Career Exploration, a community school co-located in the Erasmus Hall campus in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 

Uncorrected vision affects an estimated one in four children in the United States, significantly impacting their chances of success in school and negatively affecting their quality of life. Without clear vision, a child may struggle to see the board or computer, learn, and fully engage with their teachers and peers. Helen Keller partners with schools to provide students with on-site vision services at no-cost to the student or their parents.

“Undiagnosed vision conditions among children are one of our country’s biggest, yet most underrecognized health problems. Students with uncorrected vision are more likely to be held back in school or misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, and may experience social, emotional, and cognitive delays,” said Meghan Lynch, Director of US Vision at Helen Keller Intl. “At Helen Keller, our vision team helps eliminate the primary barriers to vision care for under-resourced families: access and expense.”    

In 2013, Helen Keller began working with the NYC Department of Education, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Warby Parker to provide students in NYC Community Schools with free vision screenings, eye exams, and prescription glasses. This partnership is a major component of NYC’s broader student-vision program, a tangible and proven health intervention that eliminates barriers to care and helps ensure that students are prepared for success. The City’s investment in vision services for students has grown significantly over the past nine years, helping level the playing field by screening more than 380,000 students and providing over 96,000 children with popular Warby Parker eyeglasses at no-cost.

“Vision is at the heart of our work. It’s in our DNA, thanks to our co-founder Helen Keller,” said Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of Helen Keller Intl. “It’s amazing what power a simple pair of eyeglasses can unlock for a child – allowing them to learn, build confidence, and engage with peers, and setting them up for future success. Now multiply that by a million. Helen Keller’s partnership with New York City ensures that our city’s most vulnerable students have the opportunity to realize their true potential.”

“Our Community Schools serve as central hubs for our students, providing needed wrap-around supports, including vision screenings, to help students overcome barriers to learning. Congratulations to Helen Keller Intl on this milestone, and a genuine thank you to all of our vision partners in ensuring our students have what they need to succeed academically,” said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “None of this would be possible without the unwavering dedication of our city and external partners who help to provide vision screenings to community schools across the city.”

“Improving a student’s vision benefits their educational success in the classroom and helps them realize their full potential,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “By providing free screenings, eye exams, glasses, and other services to one million children in New York City’s schools, Helen Keller Intl’s US Vision Program has contributed to strengthening our communities. I am deeply grateful for their commitment and partnership and look forward to continuing this important work and accomplishing our shared vision for our city’s students.”

“Providing vision services directly in schools is so important because it ultimately benefits a student’s ability to learn and engage,” said Rita Joseph, New York City Council Member and Chair of the Council’s Education Committee. “New York City is deeply committed to investing in these services for our youngest citizens, and I am thrilled to join Helen Keller Intl in celebrating this important milestone and their 28 years of providing students with the eyeglasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”

“When I worked at VisionSpring, I was constantly inspired by Helen Keller Intl and their commitment to tackling the global vision care crisis,” said Neil Blumenthal, Co-founder & co-CEO at Warby Parker. “And now at Warby Parker, it’s an honor to partner with them as we provide glasses to New York City students in their classrooms, where teachers are often the first to spot issues. This milestone is a testament to the organization’s tremendous impact and influence. Heller Keller remains the gold standard in providing access to affordable eye care.”

Since Helen Keller launched its Vision Program in 1994 in Washington Heights, the organization has provided no-cost vision services to school-aged children and vulnerable populations across all five boroughs, and across the country, so that students can realize their true potential. Today, Helen Keller’s US Vision Program also provides services in California, Minnesota, and New Jersey.