Envision Receives $25k Impact Grant From Kansas Health Foundation To Support Public Education Efforts

January 31, 2018
Wichita, Kan. – Envision announced today that it has been awarded a $25,000 Impact Grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to fund its Public Education Program. The program serves all 105 Kansas counties by promoting social awareness, advocacy and early intervention through public outreach, education and collaboration. Envision seeks to expand its program to ensure all Kansans have access to vision care.
Access to proper vision health care is becoming an increasingly critical factor in the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In Kansas alone, 4,300 children age 15 and under are blind or visually impaired (2015 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey), while more than 100,000 adult Kansans are currently living with vision loss (2012 Prevent Blindness America Report). The National Eye Institute estimated in 2010 that 4.2 million people in the United States were visually impaired or blind and that, by 2050, that number would more than triple to include 13 million Americans. Unfortunately, these numbers are not matched by sufficient or consistent access to the professional care necessary to address these vision issues. In rural areas of Kansas, for instance, there may not be optometrists or ophthalmologists in a three- to four-county area, nor any school nurses in many smaller school districts.
“Clearly, there is a cause and effect for people who are blind or visually impaired in terms of lowered socioeconomic status, limited access to vision health care and fewer opportunities resulting from blindness or visual impairment,” said Heather Hogan, Envision’s Senior Vice President of Foundation and Mission Services. “Envision is working to overcome the social and economic factors that impede the delivery of vision health services to the general public, especially in rural areas of Kansas.”
As an initial step, Hogan said, Envision launched the Envision Public Education Program in 2016. The program delivers education about eye health, eye safety and eye disease, the prevention of vision loss, and helps the typically sighted community understand the challenges faced by those living with visual impairment. Introducing this program opened Envision’s eyes to the need for a collaborative effort among all agencies and care providers throughout the state.
In 2017, the first Vision Summit was held in Wichita, Kan. Through breakout sessions and panel discussions, participants from 25 organizations and government agencies identified gaps and/or duplicate initiatives that need to be addressed. The participants formed a new Vision Coalition Task Force to drive initiatives identified at the Summit, and will now conduct a review of the vision assessment processes, create policy supporting a variety of issues in low vision and develop a website that provides a list of low vision resources for professionals and families.
“As we have been implementing our Public Education Program, we have realized that, though there are many organizations and entities within the state that are attempting to deliver eye health and vision screening services, there is very limited access to what best practices might be and what service gaps exist within Kansas communities,” Hogan said. “The Kansas Health Foundation grant will enable us to bring together sister agencies and like-minded organizations delivering eye health services to begin a dialogue that will ultimately increase the quality, consistency, and access of vision health care to all Kansans. We are grateful to the Kansas Health Foundation for supporting this initiative.”
About the Kansas Health Foundation: The Kansas Health Foundation is a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. For more information about the Kansas Health Foundation, visit www.kansashealth.org.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.

Latest news