Information for Pharmacists: Delivery Methods for Providing Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels

Several delivery methods are available for producing accessible prescription drug container labels in audible, braille, and large print formats.

Delivery methods include:

  • Hard copy braille and large print: A pharmacist filling prescriptions produces hard copy braille and large print labels upon request, affixing the accessible labels to the prescription drug containers.
  • Dedicated electronic equipment: Some equipment specifically provides accessible prescription drug container labels. Some dedicated electronic methods can be used with containers of various sizes, shapes, and materials. Examples of dedicated electronic methods include a Digital Voice or Text-to-Speech Recorder: This is a small electronic device that a pharmacist affixes to a prescription drug container. When the patient pushes a button on the device, it plays the recorded information printed on the prescription drug container label. One device is affixed to each prescription drug container. Some devices also have a USB drive.
  • Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID): A pharmacist places an RFID tag on a prescription drug container. A patient who is blind or low vision is equipped with a small, dedicated device that can scan and announce the text on the label. This technology may also provide prescription drug container label information in large print and has a USB drive.
  • Smart devices and computers: Many patients who are blind or low vision use their computers and smart devices equipped with electronic braille, large print, and audio technology to access electronic text. Blind or low vision computer users, particularly those who are deaf-blind, may request access to prescription drug container labels using their computers and smart devices via internet applications (apps) or with dedicated equipment equipped with a USB drive. Methods include pharmacists placing on the prescription drug container a QR code, RFID tag, or other small, electronic unit encoded with the prescription drug container label in electronic text, which patients receive on smart devices or computers in electronic braille, large print, or audible format. Note that this delivery method does not involve pharmacists embossing a braille label; pharmacists use an electronic delivery method that encodes the prescription drug container label text, which can be displayed via a computer screen, speakers, or an electronic braille display.
  • About electronic label delivery methods: Some electronic prescription drug label delivery methods may also have the capacity to include supplemental information about the prescription medications. In addition, some may be able to translate label information into several languages.
  • The key to providing accessible prescription drug container labels is patient-centered communication among pharmacists, patients with blindness/ low vision, and patient representatives. Because the extent of vision varies from person to person, some patients may need prescription drug container labels in an audible format. In contrast, others may need braille, and others may need large print. Additionally, it is important to remember that patients who are not computer-savvy may need hard copy braille, large print labels, or a dedicated electronic method that is easy to operate.

Printing Large Print Labels (Hard Copy):

  • Print the label in 18-point bold font.
  • Use non-glossy paper or other durable material in an easily manipulated size.
  • Use print with the highest possible contrast between text and background color (ideally black text on a white or pale yellow background). If printing on both sides, use a material that does not print bleed-through from one side to the other.
  • Use sentence case, with the initial capital letter followed by lower-case characters.
  • Use a non-condensed, sans-serif font, such as Arial.
  • Provide 1.5-line spacing.
  • Use horizontal text only.
  • Securely affix the large print label to the prescription drug container. • When covering a large print label with protective tape, use non-glossy, transparent tape.

Excerpts From Access Board Working Group on Accessible Drug Container Labels: Best Practices for Making Prescription Drug Container Label Information Accessible to Persons Who are Blind or Visually-Impaired, or Who are Elderly, July 10, 2013

For more information, review the complete Access Board report.