Speech Technology Magazine


Overheard/Underheard: CVS Prescription Service Aids Visually Impaired

By Leonard Klie - Posted May 5, 2014
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CVS/pharmacy mail-order customers can now have their prescription labels read aloud to them. The Woonsocket, RI-based company in mid-March began offering Scrip Talk talking labels from En-Vision America, a Normal, IL–based firm, to visually impaired customers who order home delivery of medicines through its online pharmacy at CVS.com. CVS is collaborating with the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, and the California Council of the Blind to make the labels and readers available to blind customers for free.

The talking labels rely on radio-frequency identification and text-to-speech technology. A thin antenna and microchip embedded within the labels are programmed with all of the printed information, including drug name, dosage, and other instructions, warnings and contraindications, pharmacy information, doctor's name, prescription number and date, and more. Users simply press a button on the special Scrip Talk reader and place the prescription bottle over the reader. A voice speaks all the information printed on the label.

The labels work with any prescription and can even speak multiple languages.

"The lack of accessible labels on prescription drug containers puts people with vision loss at serious risk of medication mishaps," said Paul Schroeder, vice president of programs and policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, in a statement. "We applaud CVS/pharmacy for taking steps to provide speech access to label information for customers with vision loss."

In addition to CVS, about 130 U.S. pharmacies, including Kohll's Pharmacy & Homecare, Big Y, Walmart, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are using Scrip Talk labels.

En-Vision also offers Scrip View labels, large-print labels with 2D barcodes that, when scanned with a smartphone that has the Scrip View app installed, can deliver the same audio information as the Scrip Talk labels.

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