June is #NationalSafetyMonth, so our Transition Tips focus on tools to help us keep control over our own health. Both preparation and access to information allow us to enjoy our summers and have confidence that each of us has the tools to monitor and take care of routine health needs.
- June 6: Building Our Own First Aid Kits
- June 13: Accessible Thermometers
- June 20: Labeling Our Medicines Accessibly
- June 27: Accessible Prescriptions
In this fourth installment of #NationalSafetyMonth June, we survey various ways to obtain prescription medications with non-visually accessible labels.
New Law in Maryland Will Require Accessibility from Pharmacies
Just last month, Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed into law important changes with regard to pharmacy labels and information for customers. This law, which will go into effect October 1, 2023, updates pharmacy labeling requirements and directs the State Board of Pharmacy to issue regulations to ensure that pharmacies meet the accessibility needs of individuals who are blind, low vision, or have disabilities that make print inaccessible to them. However, these regulations are not due until January 1, 2025, so please read below for solutions until this new plan is fully operational.
Talking Prescription Labels
Many accessible forms of prescription labels rely on talking labels. A major benefit of these labels is that they are created at the pharmacy and provide all the relevant information needed from the label (medication name, dosage, refill information, etc.). These labels are usually free for individuals who are blind/low vision and request them. Major entities in this field include ScripTalk, Spoken Rx, and the Talking Pill Reminder.
ScripTalk uses small labels equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to allow the pharmacist dispensing the prescription medication to program the label with information about each specific prescription for any individual. The pharmacist places the label on the bottom of the medication bottle (or any other container).
At that point, ScripTalk provides two free ways to access the information: (1) the dedicated ScripTalk Station device or (2) the ScripTalk app (Apple App Store ScripTalk app or Google Play Store ScripTalk app) to access information about the medicine in one of twenty-fixe supported languages. We can find pharmacies that offer ScripTalk at the ScriptAbility Pharmacy search web page. A quick search revealed that most Rite Aid, WalMart, and Costco pharmacies offer ScripTalk. Fun fact: even Chewy Pharmacy (which provides medications for pets) offers ScripTalk!
Like ScripTalk, Spoken Rx uses RFID technology on labels to access the information on the prescription label. Users can access the Spoken Rx labels through the CVS Pharmacy app (Apple App Store CVS app or the Google Play Store CVS app). Please note that Spoken Rx supports only two languages, English and Spanish.
In 2014, Walgreens came out with a tool called the Talking Pill Reminder. It allows the pharmacist to make an audio recording of the prescription information on the bottle. When it came out, the Talking Pill Reminder was free for blind/low vision individuals, but it is unclear whether that policy is still in place, so it would be reasonable to ask a nearby Walgreens pharmacy to determine if it is available locally.
Another option for accessibly-labeled medication is the Accessible Pharmacy. This mail-order pharmacy has built-in accessibility from the start, as noted on its website: “Accessible Pharmacy Services is a home delivery pharmacy service specializing in individuals who have disabilities. We are the largest blind-owned healthcare company in the country and the only provider of its kind.”
- Traditional text labels in 200 different languages
- Oversize font labels
- Contrasted color background labels
- Grade 1 braille labels
- Contracted braille labels
- Audio labels:
- WayAround WayTag labels
- QR codes
Additionally, the Accessible Pharmacy has several packaging options and will even package multiple medications together for daily doses:
- Bottles in various sizes with easy-open lids
- Bottles in various sizes with child-proof lids
- Monthly and weekly pre-sorted disposable pill organizers
- Pre-sorted individual daily pill packets
- Single liquid dose infant medication
Individuals can communicate with their pharmacist in one of several ways:
- Our toll-free phone number: 1-888-633-7007
- Be My Eyes Specialized Help section, free on iOS and Android devices
- Email us at info@AccessiblePharmacy.com
- VRS for patients who are deaf
- Zoom video calls
The Accessible Pharmacy is approved to operate in more than half of the U.S., including in Maryland. As with any pharmacy, we can reach out to determine if the Accessible Pharmacy accepts our medical insurance.
Do-It-Yourself Is Always An Option
This post focused on ways to obtain prescription medication that already has accessible labels. Of course, if none of these options meet our needs, we can always take charge, as noted in last week’s Bridges Blog post: Labeling Our Medicines Accessibly.
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridge’s Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@IMAGEmd.org
- Text or Leave a Voice mail message: (410) 357-1546
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.