Label inserts for medications or other important items can prove to be a challenge, particularly for those who have failing eyesight. In answer to this problem a new technology has been released that communicates the packaging information to the consumer using a smartphone app. In this article, we, at OTEurope, spoke with the CEO of Speech Code GmbH, Barbara Operschall, to learn more about this innovative and exciting technology.
Q: What is the audible package insert leaflet?
The audible package insert leaflet is based on the new technology Speech Code, which opens up a new way of communicating vital product information to the consumer or patient. The Speech Code software transforms any text information into a coloured, printable data code, which holds the entire content. To read the code, all that is required is a free smartphone app (called Speech Code), which is available for most mobile devices, and then the patient/consumer can use their mobile device to scan the code in order to hear the packaging/product information. When scanning the code there is no need to download anything or for internet access. The code appears as 100% accurate text on the display and is read out at the same time. Additionally, there are more than 40 languages available.
Q: What initiated the development of this product?
When we learned that 96% of all printed information today is not accessible to visually impaired and blind people - and functional illiterates with text blindness - we set out to ensure that Speech Code was also user friendly for those patients/consumers, who actually need it most.
Our ScanGuidance, which enables blind and visually impaired people to find and scan a Speech Code self-reliantly, along with the general app have been positively assessed for usability by the Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna (SFU) in cooperation with the Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (BSVÖ) and the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).
Speech Code, therefore, enables everyone to provide their information for truly ALL and improves the social inclusion of up to 25% of the population.
Q: Is this product currently available?
Speech Code has been available since November 2013 and was soft-launched post-Christmas. The response has been extremely positive. We are currently talking to selected partners across industries to join the upcoming PR activities on Speech Code as a new, inclusive technology. We are already expecting to close the first contracts in Q1 of this year.
Q: How could this product benefit the ophthalmology community?
In sectors where patients commonly suffer from visual impairments there is a very obvious challenge in providing them with adequate information. Ophthalmological clinics can provide audible information as an additional service for their patients through Speech Code. The app is free of charge, patient safety is enhanced and compliance requirements for accessibility can be met.
Another useful application is having treatment documentation available on the patient's smartphone, especially for patients in clinical studies, who may need to give detailed information to other healthcare professionals. Due to the optional PIN protection, sensitive patient data on Speech Codes can be kept confidential: The patient alone decides, who may access his/her data.
However, even patients themselves or their families can use Speech Code. For such private users we give the Speech Code licence for free as we do for NPOs serving the public good, such as patient organizations, who might want to provide their own publications in an audible format.