by Les Fitzpatrick
From the Editor: Les Fitzpatrick is employed by AccessaMed™ and is adamant in saying that he is also a supporter and a customer. He uses the product he enthusiastically promotes to help him identify medications to control his diabetes and high blood pressure. Les has been a state president in Oklahoma and a chapter president in the state of Washington, where he now resides. Here is what he has to say about the Digital Audio Label:
Chad has been blind since he was five, a tragic accident with a lead pencil and a toy dart gun. As a child he learned Braille, and, as he got older, he learned to use advanced assistive technologies like computers with screen-reading programs and Braille notetakers. Yet, with all of this technology, he continually struggled to take his prescribed medications safely and independently.
Chad tried numerous ways to differentiate his prescription bottles, including a homemade labeling system in which he put rubber bands on each bottle to help identify its medication. One rubber band for this medication, two rubber bands for that medication—now imagine trying this with eight or more medications. As Chad got older, it was also difficult for him to rely on his teenage children to successfully pronounce medications like hydrochlorothiazide and gemfibrozil. He even tried to remember the different shapes and sizes associated with his medications, but that proved even more dangerous since shape and size change from one manufacturer to another or from one dose to another. The idea of Braille on a label was appealing to Chad at first, but, due to the amount of space Braille takes up, having more than four lines of it was impractical, and it was impossible to include all the print label information. At one time Chad used foam pieces cut out in the shapes of the sun for morning medications and a crescent moon for evening medications. This was not particularly effective since the foam pieces would degrade and fall off, leaving Chad once again asking his children for help.
Chad has been fortunate to have taken the wrong medication only once. He took an allergy pill rather than a sleeping pill before bed. Fortunately the only issue for Chad was that he did not sleep that night. Had this been a more serious mix-up, it could have resulted in consequences far more serious: an illness, an ER visit, or even death. This is a scary reality for those who are blind, and it is unconscionable that this country has not mandated that accessible labeling methods be developed and implemented in order for the visually impaired to be able to take their medications completely safely and independently.
These experiences prompted Chad and his business partners to join forces to create AccessaMed™ and find a solution that not only works but is the best product on the market. In 2011 AccessaMed created the Digital Audio Label to allow users accurately and independently to know what medication they are taking and the prescription details, all without daily assistance. The Digital Audio Label does not require expensive or complicated reading systems for users. It is a two-inch tall by one-inch wide device that permanently adheres to prescription bottles or packages. When you press the button on the label, the embedded speaker provides a clear and robust verbal description of the prescription details as prepared by the pharmacist, repeatable up to four hundred times. The Digital Audio Label does not replace the pharmacist's printed label applied to the prescription. It is affixed in addition to that label.
So, you may be asking, why does AccessaMed claim to be the best on the market? To start, AccessaMed understands that blind people have multiple devices and don't need more to carry around. With smartphones, talking watches, Braille notetakers and Braille displays, digital/cassette recorders, and digital Talking Book players, the last thing they need is one more device to carry. The Digital Audio Label provides immediate access to prescription information and is completely portable. In addition to fulfilling the customer’s need, the AccessaMed Digital Audio Label satisfies the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act, which requires pharmacies to provide accessible prescription drug labeling for the blind, those with low vision, and seniors. In developing best practices, the Access Board confirmed the use of Braille, auditory means, and enhanced visual means. Research has shown that an ever-increasing number of blind and low-vision seniors do not read Braille, do not want huge folded labels with large print, and do not want expensive and complicated devices. They need a simple answer: push a button and have the prescription spoken clearly and concisely. They want the AccessaMed solution.