2004N-0221 - Medicare Modernization Act Section 107(f) - Study on Making Prescription Pharmaceutical Information Accessible for Blind and Visually-Impaired Individuals; Establishement of Docket
FDA Comment Number : EC18
Submitter : Mr. Thomas Bickford Date & Time: 07/07/2004 06:07:28
Organization : National Federation of the Blind
Individual Consumer
Category :
Issue Areas/Comments
Please allow me to share some comments about this matter.
I am a totally bllind person and use prescription pharmaceuticals.

When getting new supplies or new medications I ask my wife, who is sighted, to read me the lable and accompanying information. She is willing but not always eager to do so. That works for me, but I have plenty of blind friends who do not have sighted family members conveniently available.

I identify different medications by several methods: size and shape of bottle or pill, location of where I keep the medication,(meds taken during the day when away from home I always keep in my back pack.) Some of the tablets are very close in size. The same is true of capsules. If I don't want to take the whole six-week supply with me, I put the right number and kind in a small pill bottle with me, but I have to be sure to get the right ones into the same portable bottle. I have sometimes made my own braille labels to stick to the bottle. If I order one or two at a time by mail, I know which they are and then separate them in the ways I mentioned above.
I am not the great researcher of drug information that some people are, so I just rely on my doctors for basic information.

I have been blind since the age of 17 and am now 71. As far as I know, I have not made mistakes in taking the wrong medication, but it takes keeping your wits about you.

I do not use high tech equipment very much. I tend to rely on low tech methods: self-made braille labels, size and shape of bottles, size and shape of pills, putting a rubber band on the neck of certain bottles, or just knowing that the one with the medicine dropper in it is for a certain purpose. Square, round, hexagonal and other shaped bottles could be used. Letters could be formed into plastic or glass bottles as they are manufactured to identify such things as different kinds of insulin. Simple distinctions from one container to the next would be of great help. The hand-held electronic all-text reading device is still five to ten years
in the future. The developers may think it is closer in time, but for guys like me, who do not want to be the first on the block and spend five thousand dollars for that purpose, I still say that those machines are five to ten years in the future. We blind people need help now, not just five years out.

Yours truly,
Thomas Bickford

These are personal comments and do not reflect the opinions of my