Guest Post: Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC now offering accessible prescription medication information, Re-posted for Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC)

The Canadian Council of the Blind, GTT is re-posting this information on behalf of Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC). If you have any questions or comments please direct them to Rob Sleath at,

Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC now offering accessible prescription medication information

In addition to the eight pharmacy chains (listed below) which currently offer accessible prescription medication information (APMI), Wal-Mart Canada is now offering this service at no charge to its pharmacy customers in British Columbia effective February 2017. Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC join a growing number of pharmacy chains offering APMI at no additional cost to the consumer. These pharmacies include:

* Bulkley Valley Wholesale
* Coopers Foods
* London Drugs
* Overwaitea Foods
* Peoples Drug Mart
* PriceSmart Foods
* Save-On Foods
* Urban Fare

These pharmacies provide prescription information through an audio label affixed to the prescription bottle. Accessing the audio information is as simple as placing the prescription bottle atop a ScripTalk Reader and pressing a single button. The Reader will then announce the critical prescription information that your pharmacist has encoded into an RFID label, which will include:

• Patient’s name
• Name and strength of medication
• Dosage instructions
• Prescribing doctor’s name
• Refills remaining
• Dispensing date
• Prescription number
• Dispensing pharmacy name and telephone number
• Potential side effects and warnings

Readers can be acquired by contacting En-Vision America directly at 800-890-1180. They will ship one directly to your home at no cost provided you have a prescription pending and/or an established patient profile at one of the participating pharmacies listed above.

Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers is pleased that British Columbians who are blind or sight-impaired have several different choices when it comes to fulfilling their prescription needs with APMI. We intend to maintain close relationships with senior management from each of these participating pharmacy chains in order to work on further expanding these choices. We would appreciate receiving feedback regarding your experience with any of the pharmacies who provide APMI so that we can assist in ensuring consumers receive efficient and effective service.

Helpful Tips Regarding APMI Service
We offer the following tips for those interested in acquiring the APMI service:

1. For those who already obtain prescriptions from any participating pharmacy and wish to have all future prescriptions dispensed with APMI, contact En-Vision America today at 800 890-1180 and request they send you a ScripTalk Reader.
Delivery time takes approximately seven business days so requesting the Reader today will ensure you have the device when you next fill your prescription.
2. Ask your pharmacist to update your “Patient Profile” to indicate an encoded RFID label is required on all future prescriptions. This should eliminate the need for you to ask for it each time you present a new prescription or request a refill of an existing prescription.
3. Wherever possible, and before you conclude your appointment, ask your prescribing doctor to fax your new prescription to your pharmacy. Many pharmacies offering APMI require up to 48 hours turnaround time to dispense medications with APMI. Having your prescribing doctor fax the prescription in advance will save you a second trip to the pharmacy. And, when you pick up your medication, ask the pharmacist what turnaround time is required to encode the label as some pharmacy outlets are equipped to produce APMI labels in-store.
4. Also ask your prescribing doctor to add “requires accessible audio label” to your prescriptions. This will serve as a backup to ensure the pharmacist does not overlook this important requirement.

What You can Expect from Wal-Mart Pharmacies Wal-Mart Canada has committed to providing APMI service, with the following features, through its BC pharmacy outlets:

1. The prescription medication information to be contained in the auditory label is currently the default information programmed within the ScripTalk technology. This includes: patient name, name and strength of the medication, dosage, quantity, prescription date, use by date, refills remaining (if any), prescriber, name/telephone number of dispensing pharmacy, prescription number and warnings.
2. Patients or their personal representatives (with appropriate consent) may request ScripTalk encoded prescriptions in person at a Wal-Mart pharmacy or, in the case of an authorized prescriptions refill, by telephone call to a Wal-Mart pharmacy.
3. Physicians or other legally authorized health care professionals may request ScripTalk encoded prescriptions by telephone, electronically or by other authorized method when submitting a prescription to a Wal-Mart pharmacy.
4. If a ScripTalk encoded prescription request is submitted to a Wal-Mart BC pharmacy, Wal-Mart will make every effort to have the ScripTalk encoded prescription ready for patient pick-up within 48 hours from the time the ScripTalk encoded prescription request was submitted.
Wal-Mart will contact the patient to confirm that the ScripTalk encoded prescription is available for pick-up.
5. At the professional discretion of the Wal-Mart pharmacist, a 48- to 72-hour interim supply of the prescription medication will be dispensed to the patient and, if requested, the Wal-Mart pharmacy will take reasonable steps to mark the prescription container for easier identification by the patient. If the Wal-Mart pharmacist exercises his/her professional discretion against providing an interim supply, the patient will be entitled to choose either to fill the entire prescription at that time in the regular manner or to have the entire prescription filled as a ScripTalk prescription.
6. If a patient wishes to have a ScripTalk prescription delivered to his/her home, delivery will be free of charge for those Wal-Mart BC pharmacies that provide delivery service (currently, Penticton, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey West, Langley) and for the remaining Wal-Mart BC pharmacies if the patient lives within 10 km of the pharmacy. Otherwise, delivery charges will be borne by the patient. The provision of free delivery service for the remaining Wal-Mart BC pharmacies within 10 km of the patient’s home does not apply to prescription refills.

One of the many goals for Access for
Sight-Impaired Consumers is to expand sources where British Columbians who are blind or sight-impaired can acquire accessible prescription medication information. APMI enables those affected by significant sight loss to independently manage their medical prescriptions safely, confidently and independently. Please take a moment and share your APMI experience with us by emailing so that we can work to further improve the service offered by participating pharmacies.


Resource Article: The Cost Of Disability: Or, Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, February 6, 2017

The Cost Of Disability: Or, Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Where’s Your Dog?

The Cost Of Disability: Or, Why We Can’t Have Nice Things can be found at this link:

Being disabled is expensive. Slap a label like “adaptive” or “assistive” on a product and the price skyrockets, just like that. It seems odd, doesn’t it? Exploitative? Yet, that’s what happens.

The free market was supposed to help us all. The invisible hand of competition was supposed to keep prices reasonable. We were supposed to have choice. Unfortunately, capitalism can’t accommodate markets that are too small to inspire competition, nor can it liberate us from monopolies that keep prices extortionately high. I don’t begrudge these companies the right to value the bottom line. People need to eat, after all. There’s such a thing as going too far, though. With basic Braille technology costing several thousands and wheelchairs so expensive you’d need a full-scale fundraiser to afford them, the landscape for low-income disabled people is grim unless they have access to substantial funding. Considering that we have to use screen readers, wheelchairs and other assistive devices every day, it’s not practical to expect us to simply go without. We’re not a manipulative community whining about handouts. We really do need these products, especially in professional and educational contexts.

Living as a disabled person can incur significant costs when adaptable housing is needed. Installing adjustable beds and stair lifts can become staggeringly expensive, and for those living in low-income housing, proper accessibility is by no means guaranteed. It’s bad enough to be chronically unemployed and live in low-income housing; but living in a place where you lose much of your independence adds considerable insult to injury. Don’t even get me started on the markups on prescription drugs. Even life-saving drugs routinely sell at a 400% markup (100% is generally what is considered reasonable). It no longer surprises me when I see the lengths to which companies will go to monopolize a market and shamelessly exploit people who are already disadvantaged. We’re not asking for a pity party, to be sure, but a little reason would not go amiss.

We’re not the only ones affected, either. There are numerous grants available from governments and charities, which are intended to ease our financial burden. For example, the Government of Alberta provides $8000 a year which is spent on assistive technology and disability-related costs while I’m at university. You would think that’s overgenerous—I certainly did—but even during years when I did not buy any assistive technology at all, the entire grant was put towards paying for the editing of inaccessible textbooks. What is more, the grant did not even meet the full cost; my university covered the rest. It makes my head spin a bit, it really does. Governments are well and truly stuck, because manufacturers of accessible products have few incentives to lower their prices. Why mess with a business model that is working so well? There is more competition than there used to be, it is true, but for the most part, prices remain astronomical.

Worse still, these companies have managed to convince charities and governments that their most expensive products are the best, in any situation. Even though there are other viable options out there, many school divisions and universities insist that JAWS, one of the priciest screen readers, is the only wise choice. Encouraging this view is advantageous, so companies are happy to charge what they do, knowing that someone will gather the necessary funding. The little things bother me, too. Take watches, for example: very few stylish accessible watches exist. Most are either obnoxious talking watches that draw a lot of unwanted attention (and make startling bonging sounds when you’re not expecting it), or braille watches (which aren’t braille at all, but tactile). These watches are generally affordable enough, but they are seldom fashionable. This may seem like a frivolous gripe, given the more serious struggles we face, but why can’t we have nice things? Why do we have to wear tacky accessories just because we’re disabled? I’m not a huge fan of braille accessories, but a lot of blind people are. Why can’t they have more legitimate selection? I mean, have a look at these charming braille hoodies: they say things like “peace”, “joy”, “Jesus”, and my personal favourite, “Can you read this?” The site boasts that you can “spark conversations with total strangers!” Uh, no thanks. If I really want to spark conversations with strangers, I’ll get a dog.

Simply having a disability is financially and socially punitive, and there are many who are happy to capitalize on the issue for personal gain. Certainly, this willingness to exploit customers is not unique to assistive technology companies. However, the problem is compounded when we’re forced to purchase necessary products, much as we wish we could do without them. It’s encouraging to see how many grassroots attempts to provide affordable adaptive products and services are emerging now. I am immensely proud of open-source screen readers and inexpensive mobile apps. We’ve come a long way. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s wise to ignore the nasty elephant in the room: being disabled is prohibitively expensive, and few people know it.