By 31.12.2020 at the latest, all providers of medicinal products in Austria must provide their package inserts in a barrier-free form.
For this purpose, the Austrian authority AGES provides a central database, into which accessible PDFs containing the package insert can be uploaded.
As many had to experience painfully, creating an accessible PDF is not so easy.
All legal requirements must be met. Tables must be created in the correct format for screen readers.
This requires paid software, expertise and a lot of time.
Furthermore, this solution cannot be used in marketing. Because everyone does it. It is therefore only a matter of meeting a legal requirement.
Legal requirements without benefit, but a lot of effort, are of course quite unpopular.
This also applies to the accessible package insert in PDF format.
Who is the target group? People who are blind and use the Internet and screen reader to get the information read aloud?
That is just 1-2 % of the population! And that simply makes little business sense.
Except for moral considerations, CSR and the legal situation, of course.
Of course, barrier-free user information must (also) be useful for blind people. But not only!
Because having information read out is simply more convenient – for all people.
But above all, for the main target group of the 65+ generation. This is now 25% of the population (source Eurostat).
In addition, there are about 20% functional illiterates and people with little knowledge of the language.
Thus, an accessible package insert actually has a very high potential!
A 25 % target group is certainly interesting in marketing!
But an “accessible package insert as PDF” will probably not really appeal to the 65+ generation. Although the legendary “small print” of package inserts is one of the most common complaints.
But “We’ll read the package leaflet to you” would be a convenience that much younger people also appreciate.
This is why the accessible package insert can become a smart service for EVERYONE.
Does it meet the expectations of the 65+ generation: That “reading aloud” works quickly, easily, always and everywhere? And that the voice output is pleasant and easy to understand?
What users have to do to use the PDF solution:
This is far too cumbersome and takes far too long. Therefore, this solution is not suitable for mainstream use.
Also, for use via PC, a screen reader software must be installed. But the really good Screen Readers cost at least € 1,000. And even then it can happen that individual words, especially technical terms and proper names, are not rendered correctly.
Conclusion: The PDF solution does not meet the expectations of the 65+ generation. It is only a cumbersome compulsory exercise to comply with the legal requirements.
However, anyone who wants to use the accessible package insert as an opportunity, should offer a new service for all target groups.
A service that offers real comfort and thus added value. The “have it read out” is simply a convenience. Eyes and hands remain free. There is no longer any need to bother with deciphering small letters. This is independent of age.
Since even in the 65+ generation most people already own a smartphone, a mobile solution is certainly a good idea. Because the “mobile phone” is the object that almost everyone carries around with them at all times.
The perfect solution would be to hold the smartphone up to the packaging and the instructions for use would be read out. This is almost possible today. But it still requires an app and an NFC tag in the packaging. But RFID & NFC chips or printed electronics are unfortunately very expensive.
QR Codes on the packaging could at least contain a link to the audio version of the corresponding package insert. But to follow the link, you need internet access, which is not available always, everywhere and most importantly free of charge. And of course the audio file has to be created.
A Speech Code can store the package insert completely in the code itself, so that no Internet access is required, when reading the code. This also guarantees data security and data protection for the user.
The SpeechCode app is available free of charge for iOS and Android in the stores, shows the text on the display, and reads it out aloud at the same time.
The universal design includes intuitive navigation, adjustable font size, contrast and speech speed as well as the patented ScanGuidance. These are tonal or verbal instructions for blind people to find the code on the package/package insert and set up the smartphone for scanning.
Read also the academic study “the talking package insert” of the Sigmund Freud University Vienna in cooperation with AGES and BSVÖ.