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Making a Difference: The Impact of Licensed Professionals

Photo collage of health, design, and business professionals

The professions licensed by the State Education Department offer rewarding careers. More than that, licensed professionals help individuals and communities every day.

Making a Difference: Supporting Dental Services for People with Special Health Care Needs

Disparities in the delivery of healthcare services limit access to health professionals and treatment options. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are among those who face barriers and inequities when seeking healthcare. Often, healthcare professionals have not been trained to meet their needs. As a result, people with IDD have less access to the care needed to prevent serious health problems. 

One strategy for reducing such disparities is to train health professionals to provide care that is responsive to the needs of all New Yorkers. In this feature, we highlight three dentistry programs that are Making a Difference in serving people with special health care needs. We invite you to view the following short videos prepared by these programs: 

New York University's Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities 


Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Special Care Dentistry Unit


Touro College of Dental Medicine, Smiles United


Making a Difference: School Vision Health Initiative

The School Vision Health initiative, a partnership between the New York State Education Department, the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA), the New York State Society of Opticians (NYSSO), and VSP Global, provides no-cost comprehensive eye exams and glasses to students in need. Since 2017, week-long vision clinics occurred annually across the state.

  • Volunteer doctors of optometry conducted 483 comprehensive eye exams, and free eyeglasses were prescribed and provided to 358 students.
  • More than 50 NYS licensed optometrists and opticians participated.
  • In addition, VSP Global donated over 500 Eyes of Hope gift certificates to assist students with no-cost eye exams and glasses.

Below are video overviews of the October 2018 and March 2019 events featuring the work of NYSED, VSP, and the New York State licensed professionals who volunteered their time.

October 2018

Music: “Perspectives" Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY

If the video does not appear in your browser, you may view it on the Vimeo website by clicking here
March 2019


Music: "Inspire" from

If the video does not appear in your browser, you may view it on the Vimeo website by clicking here

Making a Difference: Future City

Future City is a national project-based learning program sponsored by Discover E and National Engineers Week. Students in grades 6-8 work with a teacher-coach and engineering mentor to design their future city. Each year’s theme relates to making the world a better place. This year’s theme was Powering Our Future! (designing a resilient power grid).

  • The State Education Department and the Office of the Professions welcomed local student teams from the 2019 Future City Competition.
  • The participating teams include Coxsackie-Athens Middle School and Richard H. O’Rourke Middle School (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake). O’Rourke Middle School won the regional competition and placed 9th out of 44 teams and won the specialty award for Best Futuristic City at the National Competition in Washington DC.

  • The teams demonstrated and described their projects. In addition to applying the science, they worked to organize and communicate their ideas for a broad audience.
Collage of students demonstrating their Future City models

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