Value of Design Award

Otago Polytechnic DESIS Lab Vision 2020 Child to Child Vision Screening

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Alex Gilks
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Machiko Niimi, Mary Butler, Kelechi Ogbuehi
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Karen Parker, Curtis Stent, Sarah Drummond

The Challenge
Vision 2020 project is in response to the challenge identified by Professor of Occupational Therapy and Vision Impairment Aotearoa Trust. At present, in New Zealand, there are only two publicly-funded vision screening opportunities for children. These are at the age of 4 and 11 but children’s vision can be changing at all times. Experts advise Children’s vision to be screened annually to catch anyone who may need to wear glasses. Early detection and management of eye health conditions can reduce drop-out rates and make an enormous difference to a child’s learning.

Our Solution
Child-to-child Vision Screening Toolkit enables children to screen each other’s vision in the classroom. Using this toolkit, children test each other’s eyesight in groups of three, one testing, one being tested and one recording results. The result from the screening is sent home and where necessary, a referral is made to see an optometrist.

Accompanying Vision Health Teaching Resource helps teachers facilitate learning about how eyes work, how to look after their eyes, and the scientific “fair testing” concept to apply when testing each other. This low cost and scientifically validated alternative to testing children’s vision makes the vision testing financially accessible for all tamariki.

Our Process
The Vision 20/20 Project is a result of co-design between occupational therapists, an optometrist, product and graphic designers and the amazing staff and pupils at the Tahuna Normal Intermediate School.
288 children and 12 teachers took part in various phases of the design process over 1 year period. Their discussion and feedback were incorporated into design concepts along with the optometrist and occupational therapists’ expertise. The screening kit was further validated using a clinical vision screener on all 288 children to ensure reliable and scientifically valid results can be achieved using our toolkit. We used “Tumbling E” figures in the vision testing chart as opposed to the standard alphabets to make the testing more accessible for tamariki with all reading abilities.

We are excited that, this design process enabled a solution that is truly novel and transforms the way children’s vision is tested. It empowers teachers, children and parents and helps put vision to the forefront of their minds.

The Results
Our classroom vision screening found that on average 3 to 4 children per class were referred to optometrists and to date, 8 children from the 288 children ended up getting glasses. Teachers noticed the classroom conversations helped make children with prescription glasses feel more comfortable wearing them in class. Other children noticed they may need glasses and went home to ask their parents to take them to an optometrist.

In 2021, Vision 20/20 resources became available on Science Learning Hub, an NZ online resource hub trusted and accessed by 7million discrete international teachers and families per year. 20 schools are currently onboard using the Vision 2020 resources in their classes.

We are actively introducing the resources to schools while also in the process of measuring the long term impact of this project.