Healthy People Consortium Meeting
"Implementing Healthy People 2010"
November 11, 2000

Summary of Breakout Group Discussion Concerning:
Vision and Hearing

1. What does implementing the Healthy People 2010 objectives mean to you?

Healthy People 2010 presents an opportunity for the sensory-disabilities community to come together for a common goal, where vision- and hearing-related agencies work together. It is vision- and hearing-related agencies that together present a unified and cohesive community where everyone gets recognition for activities that achieve our common goal.

2. How do you suggest we work with local community groups to implement the Healthy People 2010 objectives?

Targeting local communities is important in helping us meet the vision and hearing objectives of the Healthy People 2010 campaign. Listed below are some examples of agencies working with local communities to implement the Healthy People 2010 objectives:

In Massachusetts, members of the vision community are teaming up with nurse practitioners who are meeting the objectives on diabetes. The nurse practitioners, in turn, are helping vision-related agencies meet objectives about diabetic-related eye disease. Tying sensory-disability objectives into other health areas can offer successful collaborations. For instance, the association between hearing and vision loss and mental health could foster collaboration between the two health areas.

Hearing-related agencies partnered with the Girl Scouts of America (GSA). Agency officials went to each of the GSA's 400 regional chapters to present information about noise-induced hearing-loss prevention. Activities on hearing-loss prevention were tailored for each educational level of its membership.

A California program called "Sight for Students" provides free eye care to needy children. The program involves the National Nurses Association, the Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA, the Head Start program and others, who will help provide 30,000 children with eye care. Celebrities work with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to develop public service announcements on vision care, tying it with the broader issue of literacy.

One way to strengthen ties with the local community is through the Web site being developed at The site will provide information about and links to Healthy People partnership organizations, and information about meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives, such as the early detection of eye disease.

Another way to work with local communities is to collaborate with health professionals in State health departments to create awareness of Healthy People 2010 objectives and provide materials such as newspaper articles and other print materials that they can copy and distribute. A key component in meeting objectives is active, person-to-person follow-up with individuals to keep an open dialogue.

The Healthy People 2010 toolkit will be an important device in working with communities. The toolkit will contain numerous sample materials and information about Healthy People 2010 that will assist Healthy People 2010 State coordinators and the communities they serve.

Another suggestion about working with local communities is to form a collaborative sensory-disability action group, comprising vision- and hearing-related agencies, to work jointly toward Healthy People 2010 objectives. Collaboration with the 4-H Clubs of America, which focus on youth leadership issues in communities across the United States, was also suggested.

3. What are the challenges/barriers to meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives? How do you suggest we overcome them?

A major challenge/barrier to meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives is the lack of comprehensive data on the numbers of people affected by sensory disabilities. Overcoming the challenge means bringing together community-based organizations, such as local health clinics and agencies and local chapters of national health organizations, to partner with one another so that when data become available, the means to share data will already be in place.

In an effort to meet the challenge of a lack of data, the National Eye Institute, for instance, has notified Healthy People 2010 State coordinators about the vision objectives and provided information about resources and materials under development so that they might network with those agencies and organizations that could gather data.

Another challenge is the large number of vision objectives that remain to be developed.

A solution for the West Virginia vision community was to Adopt-An-Objective. The community selected 5 of the 10 vision objectives on which to focus, since fewer objectives were more manageable and those 5 were relevant to the region.

On the other hand, the suggestion was made that if an objective seems like it cannot be met, the community should seek to bring together the right people, agency, or organization with a vested interest in the specific objective.

Another challenge is collecting the data on the numbers of people affected by sensory disabilities. For instance, a mandate to screen newborns for hearing will take effect in each State within the next 2 years. State health departments must develop ways to collect data about the screenings, to include the rates of medical and parental follow through. One solution is to partner with organizations that collect the data, such as the American Speech, Hearing, and Language Association, which is developing a State-by-State tracking system to collect information about screening newborns' hearing.

4. What can we do to support the elimination of health disparities among racial and ethnic population groups?

The elimination of health disparities among racial and ethnic population groups is a complex problem relating to geographic and economic barriers, educational barriers, and access-to-care issues such as insurance and transportation.

To overcome the barriers, community-based groups must come together to address the specific barrier that caused the problem in the first place. For instance, a high percentage of inner-city Boston youths do not get adequate vision care. The problem is twofold: there aren't enough professionals to deliver the care, and funding for vision care does not include eyeglasses, an important solution to vision problems in many cases. By partnering with organizations already promoting health in their communities, we can meet the objectives of the Healthy People 2010 campaign.

One example of health disparity is the high rate of glaucoma among African Americans. An example of a solution can be found in Boston, Massachusetts, where a particular community has a large population of African Caribbeans. Vision-related organizations came together to open an eye clinic in a community health center that serves this population.

Another example of disparity may be found in West Virginia, where dilated eye examinations, a key component in diagnosing eye disease, weren't viewed by some racial and ethnic groups as being worth the out-of-pocket cost involved. The vision community must address this problem as an education issue. Other examples include the following:

Another challenge for particular populations may be generational. In a vocational program for high school adolescents in Massachusetts, many students, whose parents and grandparents did not use hearing protection when working with noise-generating tools and machines, also did not use hearing protection. Although the students and faculty wore eye protection, most did not use hearing protection. A possible solution may lie in the ability to transfer the process that resulted in students and faculty wearing eye protection to them wearing hearing protection as well.

5. What is progress? How do we measure the progress of Healthy People 2010 in the future?

Progress can be measured in many ways, all which lead to the ultimate goal: fewer people suffering from sensory disabilities and more people with sensory disabilities enjoying an improved quality of life.

Measuring the progress of meeting the vision and hearing objectives is important. One way to measure progress is through data, starting with a baseline and collecting followup data at incremental periods of time. This will involve the health services research community to interpret data to discover whether a health behavior change or impact has occurred.

Another way to measure progress is at the local level, again with collaboration from the health services research community. To assist in this effort, the National Eye Institute is developing a health-services-research working group. Another activity that promotes progress is taking the Healthy People 2010 campaign to the boards of advisors of vision and hearing organizations and agencies.

The issues involved with sensory disabilities are complex and diverse. Efforts in the vision and hearing communities on these issues have been successful in bringing them from high-level policy and legislation, to scientists, to the community organizations, the physicians and clinicians who work with patients, to the communicators who develop the messages, to the patient with sensory disabilities who in the end is helped.

6. How can we work more effectively with the media in implementing the Healthy People 2010 objectives?

Effective work with the media is vital in meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives. One example of collaboration would be to combine press releases concerning vision and hearing under "sensory disability" to target a broader audience. Another example would be to track the media placement of press releases, public service announcements, and other Healthy People 2010 information. The vision and hearing consortium could also network with communication experts implementing Chapter 11, Health Communication, of Healthy People 2010. 

Participant list

Facilitators: Adrienne Semidey, Marin Allen, Rosemary Janiszewski
Recorder: Michael Carolan 

Marin Allen

Elton Brown,
OD American Optometric Association

Pam Lipinski
Vision Services Plan

Victoria Martinez
Vision Services Plan

John Whitener
American Optometric Association

Barry Barresi
New England College of Optometry

Lorraine Marchi
National Association of Visually Handicapped

Bill Wilson
Vision Council of America

Carrie Kovar
American Academy of Ophthalmology

Linda Huss

Norma Bowyer
American Optometric Association

Diane Paul Brown
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Cynthia Stuen
Lighthouse International

Michael Carolan

Adrienne Semidey

Rosemary Janiszewski

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