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Human Rights Complaint Filed Against Walmart Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart

ADVOCATE FOR THE BLIND FILES HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGE AGAINST WALMART CANADA AND SHOPPERS DRUG MART
Prescription Medication Information Not Accessible to Persons With Print Disabilities
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vancouver, BC - June 2, 2014 – An advocate for the blind has filed separate representative human rights complaints against Walmart Canada Corporation and Shoppers Drug Mart charging them with discrimination against people with print disabilities for dispensing prescription medication with information in a non-accessible format (print labels only).
 
“Despite our best efforts to make both organizations aware of technology that overcomes this barrier for people who are blind or partially sighted or who have other print disabilities, their pharmacies continue to dispense prescription medications based only on the pharmacists’ verbal information” says Rob Sleath, Chair of Access for Sight Impaired Consumers. “The print label affixed to the prescription bottle has no value for a person who is blind or partially sighted. And, suggesting that patients may contact their pharmacist by telephone to discuss their medications does little good when we are trying to identify one particular medication amongst several others in our medicine cabnit.”
 
Sleath has been corresponding with Walmart Canada since April 2013 and Shoppers Drug Mart since May 2006, encouraging them to affix an RFID label to prescription medications. The RFID label and companion audio device, manufactured by En-Vision America, reads aloud critical dosage information, possible side effects and other important information. An audio demo is available at http://www.asicbc.ca/Pages/Successful-Initiatives.aspx.  
 
“Providing an RFID label with each prescription would enable a person who is blind or partially sighted to confidently and independently manage their prescriptions properly, eliminate any confusion as to which medication is which and dramatically reduce the likelihood of taking prescription medications incorrectly.” Sleath says, “We are disappointed we have had to file this action when other pharmacy outlets have readily understood the importance of providing such critical information to their patients with vision loss. We were optimistic Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart Canada would voluntarily accommodate their patients with vision loss given the dangers associated with improper medication management.
 
Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC) is an independent, consumer-driven advocacy coalition that addresses issues which affect legally blind, deafblind or sight impaired consumers residing in British Columbia. Many of our member organizations are affiliated with widely recognized provincial or national bodies that serve an even greater number than the 18,500 legally blind consumers who reside in this province.
 
Media Contacts:
 
Rob Sleath, Chair
Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (www.asicbc.ca)
604-241-7499
 
Nitya Iyer, Legal Counsel
Lovett Westmacott
Vancouver, BC
604-684-9221

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