Image shows helpful, smiling pharmacist at work.
Health & Well-Being

A Pharmacy Reimagined for Visually Impaired People

Sep 30, 2021

A Pharmacy Reimagined for Visually Impaired People

There’s something about the name “Accessible Pharmacy” that gives you a sense of ease. It could feel that way to anyone who’s grappled with a pharmacy, a prescription or any number of things relating to obtaining a medication. Now add vision loss into that equation. If you don’t drive, getting to the drugstore might be the first challenge. Then think about the small print and tiny text wrapped around prescription containers. It’s a wonder anyone can read it.  And paying for your medication often involves a request that you confirm some personal information on a screen, at the register, but you can’t read those words either.

Issues relating to visual accessibility at the pharmacy have not gone unnoticed. There are various solutions available, but few are integrated into the pharmacy experience. CVS Pharmacy now offers Spoken RX which enables the CVS app to scan and read an RFID code on the prescription. Siri or the Google assistant will read the details which include patient name, medication name, dosage, and directions. Walgreens makes medication accessible with Talking Pill Reminder, and they provide access to Aira for assistance shopping in-store.

If that sounds rather unimpressive, in terms of accessibility from the two largest pharmacy chains in America, well, it is. Perhaps they are slow to offer meaningful accommodations or enhanced service to customers who are visually impaired or blind, because they do not understand the problem.

 

Image shows pharmacist at computer labeling prescriptions.

Image shows pharmacist at computer labeling prescriptions.

 

Accessible Pharmacy 

Recently the need was addressed from a new perspective, by Alex Cohen, marketing PhD, entrepreneur and visually impaired person. Together with a group of partners, he reimagined the pharmacy experience and launched Accessible Pharmacy in 2020. It was a bold move and Accessible Pharmacy is getting some attention for it.  In a story about the new venture, the New York Times reported, “The pandemic has cast a spotlight on inequalities at pharmacies, where precautions and new programs have further limited access.” The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating prescription drug labels, but even a 2012 law has been ineffective in making drug information accessible to visually impaired people.

The Accessible Pharmacy was created to remove the barriers that exist in traditional pharmacies, while eliminating the need to visit a brick and mortal location. They want to put forth “an incredibly welcoming sense of hospitality,” an element that can get lost in disability services. The goal is to deliver a personalized concierge service, transacted by phone with a live member of the pharmacy staff. Most people still appreciate that human touch, especially when dealing with pharmaceuticals. Home delivery, accessible packaging, support and labeling are free of charge.  There is an Accessible Pharmacy mobile app and a direct line to the pharmacy staff is available on the Be My Eyes app, n the Trained Support section under Personal Health.

 

Products and Services: 

  • 10 Prescription Medication Packaging Options
  • Over the Counter Medications
  • Eye Drops
  • Insulin
  • Vitamins and Supplements
  • Medical Devices
  • Accessible Packaging and Labeling
  • A team of blind, low vision and sighted professionals who understand your unique needs
  • Free Home Delivery and there is no additional fee for the consultations or service
  • Free accessible packaging and labeling including contracted braille and ScripTalk
  • Education, service and support from our specialized pharmacy team
  • High-tech, low-tech and no-tech solutions to help you manage your medication
  • Eliminate the uncertainty and reduce medication errors
  • Automated refills

 

Phone: 215-799-9900 

Web: AccessiblePharmacy.com

 

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.

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