Pill Bottle for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Photo: Pill bottle 

It is easy to see that University of Cincinnati design students are on to something with their new design and prototype for a prescription-medicine pill bottle that better serves the needs of the blind and visually impaired by means of a simple and inexpensive innovation.

In fact, the two students Alex Broerman and Ashley Ma have filed for a provisional patent on their design – a design intended to have universal appeal but to fill the special needs for the more than 1.3 million Americans who are legally blind as well as those who suffer less-severe vision impairment. As the baby boomers age, it is expected that the number of American suffering from blindness will increase 70 per cent by the year 2020.

The students' design features:

• A lid on "hinges" that flips open, as lost caps are a problem for the visually impaired. And twist caps can be a challenge for the elderly.

• A small rectangular bottle body, 2-by-2 inches wide and 3-inches tall, that allows a user to easily reach in and pick out a pill or two without the need to pour out a larger supply into the palm for subsequent selection of the required dosage. In addition, this "stout" design prevents the bottle from tipping over and spilling the medication.

• A distinct texture on the bottle's flip lid. There are eight distinct textures available. Each distinct texture would correspond with a different medication. Importantly, the distinct textures are not Braille, as only 10 per cent of the blind and visually impaired can read Braille.

• The lid would also sport a dramatic, deep colour – different medication differentiated by a different-coloured lid. The reason for this is that many visually impaired individuals do have limited sight, such that they can make out a strong colour that is close to the eye.

• A "fail-safe" audio button on the lid could be pressed for an audio statement on the medicinal contents.

According to Ma, one key advantage of the students' design is that it is low-tech, simple and inexpensive, especially compared to currently available options for the visually impaired when it comes to solutions for distinguishing different medication. She explained, "Options that are currently on the market are more expensive and complex, dependent on technology and requiring a more expensive outlay on the part of the end user to purchase them."

REHACARE.de; Source: University of Cincinnati

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