Gov. Laura Kelly speaks during a news conference about the COVID-19 pandemic with the assistance of a sign language interpreter. Kelly signed a bill adding regulatory oversight of school hearing tests and of sign language interpreters in Kansas. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill altering standards for free vision screenings at public schools or accredited private schools and establishing a commission to help families secure additional services for a child failing the initial screening.
“Early detection of vision issues in children helps educators assess and address the needs of students promptly,” Kelly said. “It is critical we address these issues early on, especially if a student has shown signs of reading difficulty, to ensure our kids continue to learn to their fullest potential and find success in the classroom.”
The Kansas Children’s Vision Health and School Readiness Commission would be appointed by the Kansas State Board of Education. The eight-member commission would oversee the state’s vision screening and assist families who cannot afford after-screening services.
Basic vision screenings would be mandated annually for children with disabilities who were 3 to 5 five year old, at least once each school year for students enrolled in kindergarten, and subsequently for students in grades one through three, five, seven and 10 in a school district or accredited private school.
Under a separate provision of Senate Bill 62 approved by a bipartisan majority, sign language interpreters would be held to professional standards so Kansans who are deaf or hard of hearing receive quality service from interpreters. A person seeking to work as an interpreter would have to be registered with the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Sign language registrants would need the equivalent of a high school degree, be at least 18 years of age and obtain a certification or credential acceptable to the state commission.
She put her signature to House Bill 2607 clarifying limitations for habeas corpus claims and requiring earlier notice to the attorney general of potential release from custody of a person who could be classified by the court as a sexually violent predator. The process of civil commitment, which occurs following completion of a criminal sentence, is handled by the attorney general’s office.
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