How to Influence a Pharmacy to Provide Accessible Prescription Labels
I trust my pharmacist. My doctor sends a prescription to the pharmacy; I trust that the correct medication and dosage will be in the bottle when I pick it up. But I still check the label, because I know anyone can make a mistake, and mistakes do happen, all too frequently. We hear about them every day at En-Vision America. We know there are blind and low vision individuals looking for a better way to identify their medications. To communicate effectively with a pharmacist about a prescription requires being able to refer to the Rx number, the refill information, and the full drug information. Every blind and low vision person has a right to this information so they can safely take their medications.
The 2010 ADA Amendments provided detailed and clarified instructions on how public accommodations must provide auxiliary aids and services to blind or low vision customers in order to provide effective communication regarding medications. It paints a future where, with no additional cost to the customer, pharmacies are able to provide the best means communication with customers so they know what medications they are receiving, how to take them, and what the warnings and possible side-effects are without an accompanying adult. There is a loophole—unlike public entities which are required to provide accommodations in order to continue to receive public funding; public accommodations (like pharmacies, stores, private companies) are only required to do so if it is not an undue burden financially.
Small town and private pharmacies strive to offer personalized service above and beyond large chains while at the same time trying to compete with their lower prices. Whether or not they offer accesssible labels often comes down to a simple equation of return on investment. Blind organizations or groups of individuals who wish to influence a pharmacy to initiate ScripTalk service might want to consider some of the following strategies:
Invite local pharmacists to attend a meeting where the assessable label options will be demonstrated. The Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living in Illinois asked a local pharmacist from The Medicine Shoppe to come to their meeting and learn about accessible label solutions that could help the blind in their local community. After learning about ScripTalk and hearing how many in the audience could benefit from the service, he decided to initiate the service. JACIL helped to cover the initial costs of set up.
Approach the pharmacy with a united front. NFB members of Fort Smith, Arkansas approached a pharmacy altogether and requested the service. The prospect of so many new patients encouraged the pharmacy to start up. Later, other pharmacies did the same to try to earn back their former customers.
Apply for a grant or funding from another organization to cover start up costs for the pharmacy. While the ADA says pharmacies cannot pass on the cost of auxiliary accommodations to the blind, they also are not required to take on “undue burden” if the cost of accommodation is too great. Helping to find another source to cover that cost can help. The DesMoines NFB chapter applied for a grant from a local hospital foundation to cover the initial costs of ScripTalk in several pharmacies in their county. Grants and funding may also be available from local Lion’s Club, Rotary or other philanthropic organizations.
About En-Vision America: En-Vision America, Inc. is provides products aimed at solving problems for those with visual impairments. Founded by Philip C. and David B. Raistrick in 1996, they began by inventing products to help blind family members. The cornerstone of the company is to provide customers with greater independence through technology. For more information about ScripAbility audible, Braille or large print labels or to find out if there is another pharmacy located near you or a loved one contact En-Vision America at 1-800-890-1180 or visit http://www.envisionamerica.com/products/scripability/