Meet half Helen
The creator of swift Screen™
Chelsea Elliott learned that she was blind in her left eye and deaf in her right ear during a school-based screening. After learning about Helen Keller, nine-year-old Chelsea thoughtfully told her family on the ride home from school, “I’m half blind and half deaf, I am half Helen!” These collective moments in Chelsea’s early life paved a path towards what would later become her life’s work.
Motivated by her own loss, Chelsea turned her personal experience into an opportunity to help others and started half Helen (hH) in 2013. With the financial help of the West Austin Lions Club and a small circle of supporters who believed in her vision to help provide affordable and preventative vision and hearing screenings to every child, Chelsea purchased hH’s first Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener camera and two audiometers. And with that, hH was ready for business.
Shortly after beginning work in Texas, Chelsea learned that Hawaii had completely stopped conducting state mandated vision and hearing tests in its schools due to a lack of funding. Prompted by a desire to help, she developed a plan that would allow hH to provide free screenings to students in every public school in the Maui, Lanai and the Molokai islands. After successfully presenting her plan to the Lions Club in Maui, Chelsea moved to Hawaii, and the club agreed to partner with hH to carry out her plan. Chelsea and hH’s great work in Hawaii were recognized by the CNN Heroes Program. This contributed to the increased demand for hH’s services back in Texas which prompted Chelsea to return home and grow the program.
Vision impairment is one of the top ten disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children. With 80% of learning being visual, it is clear that early detection and treatment of a vision problem can play a significant role in the success of a child’s academic career. It is hH’s mission to improve children’s vision and hearing through an innovative delivery of care.