Andy/ May 12, 2020/ AFB, blindness, NFB

We often get questions about Replacement Blind Friendly Meter Recommendations.  The AFB published an article a few years ago and the information is below.

Over 16 million Americans have diabetes, a disease in which the body cannot store and regulate glucose properly, and 5 million of them experience vision loss as a result. Although blood glucose meters have allowed people with diabetes to manage the disease independently, visual readouts that are hard to see have made many of the devices incredibly difficult for people with vision loss to use. Not just a matter of convenience, these devices can mean the difference between life and death.

Because it is imperative that people with vision problems be able to use blood glucose meters, AFB Tech has continues to spend a great deal of time and energy evaluating these products for accessibility and helping manufacturers blaze new trails in accessible design. AFB Tech works with top-notch research institutions, such as the Marshall University Medical School, to ensure that diabetics with vision loss can use blood glucose meters successfully and easily.

For more information, contact us at Accessible Pharmacy or go to:

The NFB shared a great article too the full article can be read at:

Roche Diagnostics-Boehringer Mannheim Corporation, in conjunction with Eli Lilly and Company, has developed a new talking blood glucose monitor. Based on the proven Accu-Chek Advantage meter, the new, extremely user-friendly Accu-Chek Voicemate incorporates many features of interest to the blind diabetic, or to any diabetic who cannot depend on his/her vision for daily blood glucose monitoring.

Usable with any Accu-Chek Advantage meter, the Accu-Chek Voicemate is a “docking station,” a larger box into which the Advantage meter is inserted. Without cords or cables, the Voicemate then provides the following:

* Clear, high-quality speech synthesis, talking the user through preparations, test procedures, and results, without the need for sighted assistance.

* An “insulin vial identifier” which reads Lilly insulin vials and speaks their type, as a safety aid in tactile insulin mixing.

* A new, improved test strip: the Accu-Chek Comfort Curve.

* No meter cleaning required.

* A new “code-key” system for programming test strip codes.

* Three-year warranty.

The Accu-Chek Voicemate was officially “launched” at the annual convention of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, held in Minneapolis, MN, last August. I was present, so I was able to inspect its features in detail. Now I have a Voicemate of my own, and I am continuing to test it. At this time, it is the easiest meter for a blind diabetic to use, facilitating far more independence in diabetes self-management than possible before.

At top rear of the Voicemate (which measures 6.5″ long by 3″ wide by 2.5″ tall, and weighs 12.5 oz.), there is a small hole, just right for the insertion of an insulin vial. Vials of Lilly insulin bear a bar code that the machine detects and reads, telling you which insulin type (such as R, N, Humalog, etc.) is being tested. I see this as a tremendous improvement over impermanent tactile vial ID’s such as rubber bands or masking tape. If you need this information, you can simply press the big round button on the left; the meter will tell you: “Insert vial and rotate,” then “Vial detected.” It will tell you to “Reverse rotate,” and then it will read your Lilly insulin vial.

The Voicemate, as I stated, uses the familiar Accu-Chek Advantage meter, which can be detached from the Voicemate for conventional (sighted) use. If the Voicemate requires servicing, or if your Advantage meter needs to be replaced, the switch is simple and easy. Previously-produced Advantage meters are compatible with the Voicemate system.

The Accu-Chek Voicemate system comes with a new test strip. The Accu-Chek Comfort Curve is a tremendous improvement! It requires 4 micro liters of blood for a test, far less than most meters. The strip projects from the meter, and is more advanced than any offered with previous talking meters. Blood can be dropped, dabbed, smeared… just get it on the strip. And the strip has an easy-to feel tactile cutout, to help you find the right spot. Once you get there, the strip draws in the blood— you don’t drip on the meter. No more meter cleaning! Best of all, the Comfort Curve strips are compatible with existing Accu-Chek Advantage meters (and existing Advantage strips will work with the Voicemate).

With most meters, when you start a new bottle of strips, you need to program in the strips’ “reference code.” With the Voicemate, this is very simple. With each bottle of Comfort Curve strips, Roche-Boehringer supplies a “code key,” which is inserted into the back of the Voicemate, automatically setting the code. When you start a new batch of strips, you must change code keys. For the first time ever, no sighted assistance is necessary to program the strips’ reference code into the meter. ALL previous talking glucose monitors required sighted assistance at this stage.

Those who remember the old Freedom System will be very pleasantly surprised. The Voicemate is far more transportable. It weighs just 12.5 ounces, with batteries (9v for the talk-box and two 3v lithium “button cells” for the meter), and even though it is a small unit, its voice (when you turn it up) is loud, clear, and high-quality. There is an earphone, for private listening as needed. The Advantage’s optical (screen) display is clear and large, with numerals 14mm (approx. 5/8 inch) tall. And, the unit turns itself off after five minutes.

The Voicemate is supplied with an adjustable over-the-shoulder carrying case (I tried it), with meter, voice box, batteries, adapter cord, 10 Comfort Curve strips, earphone, insulin check-vial, manual and quick-reference guide (in large print), and clear, reasonably thorough instructions on audiocassette. (NOTE: The pre-release model I inspected was supplied with instructions that were ambiguous about very low or high readings. Hopefully, later versions of the print and tape instructions will rectify this.) Also included is the Accu-Chek Softclix lancing device, and a packet of 10 lancets. While not a new item, the Softclix is high-quality, and allows adjustment for depth of lancet penetration.

In the past, Boehringer Mannheim meters were only available through company sales representatives. The new meter, catalog #2030802, can now be ordered through any pharmacy (suggested retail price $495-$525). Have your pharmacist contact Roche Diagnostics, 9115 Hague Road, Indianapolis, IN 46250; telephone: 1-800-428-5076.

NOTE: Medicare reimburses for purchase of home blood glucose monitors for diabetics. It lists them as “Durable Medical Equipment,” and provides two “reimbursement codes.” Code EO607 is for conventional home glucose monitors, and code EO609 is for monitors with voice synthesis, or voice boxes for existing monitors. The amount reimbursed varies state by state, but in Missouri, it is up to approximately $490 for a talking meter like the Voicemate. If you are eligible for Medicare, diabetic (type 1 or type 2), and at least legally blind, you should be eligible for reimbursement, with your doctor’s written statement. Similarly, Medicare will now reimburse beneficiaries for monitor test strips—Your doctor’s prescription (written before purchase) for the strips must state that you are diabetic, how many strips you need, how often each day you will test, and whether or not you use insulin. Medicare will not honor a prescription for test strips that merely states “as needed.”

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