Meet the team: From the Eyes of a Blind Man, Our own Chad Hazen

Chad HazenChad has been blind since he was five, a tragic accident with a lead pencil and a toy dart gun. As a child he learned Braille, and, as he got older, he learned to use advanced assistive technologies like computers with screen-reading programs and Braille note takers. Yet, with all of this technology, he continually struggled to take his prescribed medications safely and independently.

Chad tried numerous ways to differentiate his prescription bottles, including a homemade labeling system in which he put rubber bands on each bottle to help identify its medication. One rubber band for this medication, two rubber bands for that medication—now imagine trying this with eight or more medications. As Chad got older, it was also difficult for him to rely on his teenage children to successfully pronounce medications like hydrochlorothiazide and gemfibrozil. He even tried to remember the different shapes and sizes associated with his medications, but that proved even more dangerous since shape and size change from one manufacturer to another or from one dose to another. The idea of Braille on a label was appealing to Chad at first, but, due to the amount of space Braille takes up, having more than four lines of it was impractical, and it was impossible to include all the print label information. At one time Chad used foam pieces cut out in the shapes of the sun for morning medications and a crescent moon for evening medications. This was not particularly effective since the foam pieces would degrade and fall off, leaving Chad once again asking his children for help.

Chad has been fortunate to have taken the wrong medication only once. He took an allergy pill rather than a sleeping pill before bed. Fortunately the only issue for Chad was that he did not sleep that night. Had this been a more serious mix-up, it could have resulted in consequences far more serious: an illness, an ER visit, or even death. This is a scary reality for those who are blind, and it is unconscionable that this country has not mandated that accessible labeling methods be developed and implemented in order for the visually impaired to be able to take their medications completely safely and independently.

These experiences prompted Chad and his business partners to join forces to create AccessaMed and find a solution that not only works but is the best product on the market. Since the creation of AccessaMed in 2011, Chad has been fortunate to spend his time spreading the word about the Digital Audio Label and helping other visually impaired people live safer and more independent lives.

Published on Feb 2, 2015.

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