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Austin woman making sure other kids never have to face what she did

Chelsea Elliott with classroom full of young students. (KEYE)
Chelsea Elliott with classroom full of young students. (KEYE)
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An Austin woman is on a mission.

"When I was four years old, I failed a vision test and we later learned I was blind in my left eye," said Chelsea Elliott. "A year later, a failed hearing screening in kindergarten revealed that I was deaf in my right ear."

To ensure no other kids have to face what she did, Elliott started the Half-Helen Foundation, named in honor of one of her heroes.

"In the fourth grade I learned of Helen Keller's amazing life for the first time and declared that I am half-blind, I am half-deaf, I am Half-Helen," she said.

At age 15, Elliott had her left eye removed.

"I learned that my conditions could have been prevented had they been detected early."

Half-Helen's mission is to ensure all children get their eyes and ears tested early. They use a machine called a spot vision screener to take a picture of a child's eyes. That picture takes 23 measurements, checking for things like near and farsightedness, astigmatism, and more serious conditions which could lead to blindness. Half-Helen also does screenings for hearing.

The majority of children are just fine, but finding a child who does needs help, like a little boy who turned out to be severely farsighted, keeps Elliott going with her mission.

"He came out of a mobile vision van wearing a new pair of glasses and walked up to his mom and I and said, 'Mama, you have freckles, I didn't know that!' And that alone was probably one of the most transformative moments that I've had," Elliott said.

By later this fall, the Half-Helen Foundation will have screened 20,000 kids. If you'd like to learn more about the work they do CLICK HERE.

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