Two blind-founded companies are teaming up to assist blind and low vision consumers with medication support, COVID testing and more
By Will Butler
Look around the pharmacy and what do you see? Small-print labels, identical pill bottles and inaccessible interfaces abound. And in the time of COVID, where drive-up testing and social distancing is the norm, blind and low-vision people have found themselves struggling more than ever to feel healthy and informed.
That’s why, starting on November 9, Be My Eyes will welcome our first partner pharmacy onto our app! Our users in the United States will be able to ask their questions about medicine, drug interactions and starting in December, even order in-home COVID tests from trained professionals who know how to safely and effectively set up blind individuals for success. We’re thrilled to welcome the newest Specialized Help partner, Accessible Pharmacy Services, to the Be My Eyes Community!
Below you can find out more about how and why this partnership came together, and the story behind how Accessible Pharmacy was founded.
COVID hits hard, and two blind founded-companies team up to help
“What if we start exhibiting symptoms of COVID? How do we go through the drive-through testing sites in an ethical way?” Stacy Cervenka, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, outlined the many new challenges facing blind people for Bloomberg this spring. “We could use a ride-sharing service; You could call a family, friend or neighbor; But then you’re putting them in danger.” As the pandemic has progressed, COVID-19 has only continued to expose the weaknesses in access and inclusion for individuals with visual impairments in getting their most basic needs met.
From ABC to the BBC, the travails of being blind during a pandemic have been well-documented – and speculated upon – by outside observers. But who has actually offered solutions? That’s why, like most great breakthroughs, it took entrepreneurs with lived experience to come up with new channels for our community to adapt.
At Be My Eyes, we believe companies and products are truly special when they’re designed by those who actually need and use them. You probably know the story of Hans Jørgen, the blind craftsman who conceived of Be My Eyes in Denmark in 2012. But you might not know the story of Alex Cohen, the blind man behind Accessible Pharmacy.
How Accessible Pharmacy got its start
When Alex Cohen was pursuing his Ph.D. in marketing with the goal of becoming a college professor, his dissertation research dealt with examining the accessibility of both the online and physical marketplace and how they could be made more inclusive for the blind and low vision community. After achieving his doctorate he continued his research in this area, and repeatedly uncovered both practical and philosophical obstacles to implementing these solutions. Importantly, through his research and own lived experience, he discovered that these accessibility-related shortcomings were particularly apparent in pharmacies. Yes, accessibility and inclusion is important in all aspects of the retailing marketplace, but when you’re dealing with healthcare-related services and medication management the importance grows exponentially.
Deciding that continued efforts trying to make the existing pharmacy marketplace mor accessible was far too exhausting, Cohen came together with his business partners to create a brand new marketplace specially made for the blind and low vision community. They wanted to create a community where high quality medication management services are individually crafted to meet the unique needs of every patient, and where accessibility and inclusion are never an afterthought. This is how Accessible Pharmacy Services came to be a reality.
In 2020, Accessible Pharmacy launched as a comprehensive, home delivery pharmacy service specializing in the needs of people who are blind or have low vision. Founded by blind and sighted experts in the areas of accessibility, technology and medicine, Accessible Pharmacy is the only provider of its kind. Accessible Pharmacy offers free home delivery of prescription medication, OTC medication, Accessible Pharmacy brand vitamins, supplements, small home medical devices, and COVID home tests. Furthermore, they offer more than 10 different types of accessible packaging, including ScripTalk, so you can find the packaging that suits you best at no further cost.
Picture the full pharmacy experience, specifically designed by and for those who are blind or low vision.
Accessible Pharmacy’s team is available for blind and low-vision Be My Eyes users in the US – you don’t even have to be an Accessible Pharmacy patient. Accessible Pharmacy can answer any questions you might have related to medicines, vitamins and supplements, as well as guide you through the services they offer and your home COVID-19 test.
Making a call to Accessible Pharmacy through Be My Eyes is easy. Just open the Be My Eyes app, enter the Specialized Help menu, and locate Accessible Pharmacy in the Personal Health Category. The Accessible Pharmacy team is ready to take your call Monday through Friday from 10am to 3pm ET.