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Our Story

We're parents, educators, physicians, and scientists out to change the way kids see the world and understand their own vision. Students and families thrive when they can clearly see the world together. The Vision 20/20 Project is a collaboration between occupational therapy and product design at Otago Polytechnic, the school of medicine (ophthalmology) at Otago University, and the amazing staff and pupils at Tahuna Normal Intermediate School.


The Vision 20/20 project began in 2019 to improve vision screening for children in schools. At present in New Zealand, there are two national opportunities for vision screening for children. The first is at the age of 4 when children are screened for amblyopia (lazy eye), but other conditions that might affect their capacity to read, such as long-sightedness and short-sightedness, and eye co-ordination are not tested. At age 11, students are again tested but only for distance vision. We found that post-screening follow-up action for parents, students, and teachers is frequently misunderstood or poorly communicated.

The gaps in the screening programmes led Mary Butler, Professor of Occupational Therapy at Otago Polytechnic, to think about social innovation as a way of reducing the effects of youth visual impairment on learning and life. Mary and her students created a prototype called the child-to-child vision screening toolkit.​

 
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Our child-to-child vision screening toolkit enables children to screen each other’s vision in the classroom. Students from Tahuna Normal Intermediate School have been working with our research team to find out what works and what needed to be tweaked; the students have provided considerable feedback. In early iterations of the test, they found people being tested could simply memorise the letter patterns, which were repeated from test to test, so the team switched to the tumbling E design. Students suggested other modifications to the testing chart, including colour-coding and minimizing the amount of text the student administering the screen needs to read. Students noted that working in groups of three or four was easier and more effective than working in pairs. Participant feedback continues to play a critical role in improving our vision screening toolkit.


Vision 20/20 aims to raise awareness about the importance and utility of vision screening in the classroom. Screen results are sent home to parents and recorded in school databases. Our project aims to ensure that 100% of Year 7 children have their vision tested and obtain glasses if necessary; removing any visual impairment barriers that are preventing them from participating fully in their school and home life.


In addition to in-class screening, children learn about vision science and eye health. We have integrated the vision screening toolkit into a teaching package; the “Vision Health Module”. The provision of child-to-child vision screening in the context of teaching about vision and eye health ensures that the conversation about vision is one that is owned by the teacher and the pupil. This method of teaching empowers children by increasing the level of interest and relevance to the children.

 

Meet Our Team

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Mary Butler

Birth Mother and Team Leader

Occupational Therapy Voice

Professor of Occupational Therapy, University of Adelaide AUS

Kelechi Ogbuehi

Optometrist Voice

Professor of Optometry, University of Otago NZ

Machiko Niimi

Human-Centred Design Voice

Principle Lecturer for Product Design

Otago Polytechnic NZ

 
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Sarah Drummond

Project Manager and Occupational Therapy Voice

Otago Polytechnic: Occupational Therapy Student; Research Assistant 2019 & Project Manager 2020

Karen Parker

Teacher Voice

Tahuna Intermediate School NZ

Alex Gilks

Graphic Designer

Chop Chop Design

 
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Aleisha McMurray

Instigator for child-to-child

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Otago Polytechnic: Occupational Therapy Student; Workplacement 2018

Tahlia Hapuku

Instigator for child-to-child

vision assessment

Otago Polytechnic: Occupational Therapy Student; Workplacement 2018

Curtis Stent

Product Designer

Otago Polytechnic: Product Design Student; Client-Based Project 2019

 
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Vision 20/20

is proudly supported by:

Otago University Vision 20/20
University of Adelaide
Otago Polytechnic Vision2020
Tahuna Logo Vision 20/20
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Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Curious Minds New Zealand Vision 2020
VICTA Vision Impairment Trust Vision 20/20
 
Image by Feliphe Schiarolli

Vision 20/20 Funding

The Vision 20/20 Project received funding through Otago Science in Action, the Otago pilot of the Participatory Science Platform (PSP) – a programme that is part of the Curious Minds initiative and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The government’s national strategic plan for Science in Society, A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, is a government initiative jointly led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.