Making Medications Accessible, An Interview with Linda Miller RN

Low vision and talking blood glucose meter.

(Referred to in Chapter 7: “Get the Guessing Out of Medications”

Linda miller RN, is the nurse at the Carroll Center for the Blind. Some clients there have diabetic retinopathy, and others have a complex regimen of pills.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Linda: For people dealing with diabetic retinopathy who have to take and test their blood at least daily the biggest problem is often getting a drop of blood onto the test strip. I had a student recently who was really good at it, and he allowed me to make a video: The video is just above this section.

The prodigy voicemeter speaks your blood-glucose level. Prodigy voice meter is cheap but test strips are expensive as you have to test at least once a day or more. There is also the Embrace talk Glucose meter for less than $10, but again it’s the test strips that cost. “No-code” strips are okay to use, but not expired strips. (I keep some expired strips for students to practice on.)

Insurance companies may not supply strips if they did not supply the blood glucose meter. Your diabetes Doctor can write a prescription for the meter (and the strips.)

Some state blindness agencies offer visits from a diabetes educator.

Hannah: How well your state funds blind services is very variable: States next to each other may have good services for adults or not much. There is good information on the

VisionAware website. (Also check the end of this post .)


Knowing Your Pills

Linda: I had a client who must have had a wide throat – he swallowed a whole day’s pills at once instead of just his morning pills and ended up in the Emergency Room.

I find people shake the bottle or feel the bottle or the pill to tell their pills apart and want to keep that method.

But home-made large print labels can get lost and bump dots and rubber bands may be misinterpreted. Also prescriptions change and so do Pills. The client may be prescribed another pill that’s the same size and shape as one he is already taking.

Hannah: The issue get serious when you have several types of pill to manage.

Linda: Talking labelers such as the PenFriend , and the Talking Label Wand are one good answer. You record the prescription name and dosage on a Radio Frequency Identification, (RFID) label, also when the refill is due with the pharmacy phone number. You can even get the pharmacist to record it. No one else has to have any role in it.

Hannah: The best solution for many people is ScripTalk prescription reader. Most big pharmacies and health insurance companies now support this serviceCheck details at end of post. (

Linda: Then there are regular meds and “as needed” meds which you would take if you had pain, or when your allergies get bad. You don’t have to pull them out every time you fill your pill organizer. (But you do have to know what each one is!)

Organizing Pills

Linda: Pill organizers with single -day sections you can pop out for trips are very useful, and there are organizers with different colors for times of day. But for anyone refilling their organizer the most important thing is to Put a tray under all the pills before you begin, so no pills fall to the floor.


Linda: For reminders , students at the Carroll Center mostly use their smartphones, or take their pills at mealtimes.

Hannah: Now smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa (Echo) can do daily pill-reminder announcements if that works better.

Accessible devices and Information

Diabetes support: Ccall 1800 diabetes and ask assistant to do a search and find diabetes classes in your area with your zip code. The information is on the website under diabetes educators hover over that option and a link to listing of recognized education programs will appear. Click on the link then put in zip code to show diabetes classes.

American Diabetes Association (ADA) 1800- DIABETES or for professionals 1800-232-3472

There is good diabetes information on the

VisionAware website, also a free app (for smart phones and tablets) called VisionConnect. Search for helpful services in your area. Both are now managed by American Printing House for the Blind,(APH.

Pen Friend 2( also 3) and Talking Label Wand, shop around prices vary. Check features like pausing playback, tactile or colored labels. Both products are pen-shaped devices that record and playback on Radio Frequency Identification,RFID labels.

Prodigy Voice Meter, diabetes blood glucose testing

scripTalk prescription reader a small plug-in platform loaned to you which reads the RFID label, either just the name and dosage or the refills and side effects too. You can also download a free app onto a smartphone with Near Field Capability, NFC, (which is installed on newer phones.) The pharmacy attaches RFID labels to the bottle or package. For more details put Does Your Pill bottle Talk into the search bar on this website.

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