Press Release: Talking labels makes prescriptions easier to access for the visually impaired at pharmacies across Empire’s family of brands, February 12, 2020



February 12, 2020


Talking labels makes prescriptions easier to access for the visually impaired at pharmacies across Empire’s family of brands


Lawtons Drugs, Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, IGA (western Canada) and FreshCo pharmacies partner with En-Vision America to boost medication safety for low vision, blind and print-impaired pharmacy patients through ScripTalk; an innovative and accessible audible prescription label service


Stellarton, NS – Empire and its family of brands, continue to lead the grocery retail sector in providing inclusive customer experiences as the first national pharmacy network in Canada to offer ScripTalk audible prescription labels at all its in-store and stand-alone pharmacy locations, including Lawtons Drugs, Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, IGA (western Canada) and FreshCo.


A first-of-its kind at the national level by a Canadian pharmacy network, this rollout offers Canadians reliable access to simple, innovative technology to improve independent management of prescription medication.


ScripTalk audible prescription labels enable blind, low vision or print-impaired pharmacy patients to hear important prescription label information free of charge using En-Vision America’s Pharmacy Freedom Program.


With ScripTalk, pharmacists are able to code prescription labels with RFID or Radio Frequency Identification technology. Patients can then use a small, hand-held, base prescription reader called the ScripTalk Station Reader, available free of charge, to hear important prescription information and instructions read aloud (i.e. an audible label).  Patients can also access talking prescription labels by using En-Vision America’s mobile phone application that is compatible with the coded prescription labels.


“We’re proud to offer ScripTalk at all of our pharmacies across the country. ScripTalk is an easy-to-use yet innovative technology that is breaking barriers for those who are blind, have experienced vision loss, or are otherwise not able to read vital prescription information,” said Vivek Sood, Executive Vice President, Related Business, Sobeys Inc. “With this technology, we’re empowering our patients to independently manage their medications safely at our pharmacies, in their homes, or wherever they may be.”


“We at the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) are very pleased to be working with Empire and its family of brands to make prescriptions and important medical information more accessible for those of us who are unable to read or have difficulty reading medication labels. ScripTalk provides independence for people with print disabilities. The ScriptTalk audible prescription labels and readers are helping to overcome major issues that our community has struggled with for years. We’re thrilled to see this innovative new technology being offered across all of Empire’s banner pharmacies in Canada, including Safeway, FreshCo, and more,” Said Louise Gillis, CCB National President.


CCB’s Louise Gillis went on to say, “With Sobeys’ new talking labels, individuals with sight loss are now able to manage their medications more safely and independently.  The CCB estimates that there are 1.5 million Canadians living with vision loss, ranging from partial sight to total blindness. This population is seriously underserved with limited accessible pharmacy provided options for prescription labels. This puts them at risk for misinformation when accessing the pharmaceutical information on the attached labels.”


All Empire banner pharmacy locations across Canada, including Lawtons Drug Stores, and in-store pharmacies located in Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, IGA (western Canada) and FreshCo banners have implemented the ScripTalk service.


About Empire

Empire Company Limited (TSX: EMP.A) is a Canadian company headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Empire’s key businesses are food retailing, through wholly-owned subsidiary Sobeys Inc., and related real estate. With approximately $25.6 billion in annualized sales and $13.8 billion in assets, Empire and its subsidiaries, franchisees and affiliates employ approximately 123,000 people.

Sobeys National Pharmacy

Sobeys National Pharmacy has more than 420 pharmacies across Canada, including Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo and Lawtons Drugs pharmacies; each with a dedicated team to help you manage your medication and health care needs. From advice on what to take for a cough or cold to helping you manage a new prescription medication, our teams are committed to providing convenient and personalized services for your family’s health and wellbeing.


About En-Vision America

En-Vision America, a Palmetto, Fla.-based company, provides high-tech products aimed at solving problems for individuals with disabilities. The company has spearheaded many innovations relating to labeling including voice-enabled products like i.d. mate, the talking bar code reader, and ScriptAbility, which includes talking prescription labels, Braille, large print, dual language and Controlled Substance Safety Labels (CSSLs). Originally founded by Philip C. and David B. Raistrick in 1996, the cornerstone of the company is based on one single premise: To provide those with disabilities equal access and greater independence through technology. Today, more than 20,000 individuals are using ScripTalk. For additional information, visit


CCB Backgrounder:


The CCB was founded in 1944 by a coalition of blind war veterans, schools of the blind and local chapters to create a national self-governing organization. The CCB was incorporated by Letters Patent on May 10, 1950 and is a registered charity under the provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

The purpose of the CCB is to give people with vision loss a distinctive and unique perspective before governments.  CCB deals with the ongoing effects of vision loss by encouraging active living and rehabilitation through peer support and social and recreational activities.

CCB promotes measures to conserve sight, create a close relationship with the sighted community and provide employment opportunities.


The CCB recognizes that vision loss has no boundaries with respect to gender, income, ethnicity, culture, other disabilities or age.

The CCB understands in many instances vision loss is preventable and sometimes is symptomatic of other health issues.  For the 21st century, the CCB is committed to an integrated proactive health approach for early detection to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

As the largest membership organization of the blind and partially sighted in Canada the CCB is the “Voice of the Blind™”.


For further information, please contact:

Violet MacLeod

External Communications and Corporate Affairs

Sobeys, Inc.


Excellent resource for anyone in Ontario. Very exciting development about accessing prescription information. 

With great thanks to Chris and Marie Stark who have asked me to publish on the blog.This is great and exciting news. 

Would love someone to demonstrate one of these at GTT meetings. 

If anyone else has obtained one, we’d love to hear about it. 

“New Service to Access Information on Prescription Medication Labels

Dispensed by Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario

Reading or understanding the contents and instructions of labels on

prescription medications is a source of problems and frustration for many

people, particularly for persons who are blind and others who have

difficulty reading print material. The small print and look-alike packaging

of medicine vials can lead to confusion, non-compliance, and mistakes. A

solution to this serious issue, the ScripTalk Station prescription reading

device, developed by EnVision America, is now available at Shoppers Drug

Marts in Ontario. 

The ScripTalk works by simply pressing a button on the device and placing

the special talking label over the reader, which then speaks all the

information printed on the label including drug name, dosage & instructions;

warnings and contraindications; pharmacy information; doctor name;

prescription number and date; warnings etc. More information on the

ScripTalk technology can be found at

<; ScripTalk

| En-Vision America – Assistive Technology for the Blind and Low-vision

Community. You can also view an

<; overview video of the

ScripTalk for Pharmacies on YouTube and an

<; overview video of the

ScripTalk system for customers on YouTube. 
The first step to obtain a ScripTalk prescription reader is to contact your

Shoppers Drug Mart owner/pharmacist who is responsible for initiating the

process. Information on the ScripTalk was sent, a while ago, to all

Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Ontario. Customers who are blind should

discuss their needs with their pharmacist, who can then contact their field

support teams with any inquiries regarding available options. 

Once you have decided to get the ScripTalk reader, you will be asked to sign

a program registration document required by EnVision America, who will then

send a reader directly to you. There is no cost to the customer who is


There is, at present, a 48 hour lag time between requesting a medication at

your pharmacy, and the pharmacist sending the information to Shoppers Drug

Mart Head Office who then prepare the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

lables required by the ScripTalk device. New prescriptions requiring

immediate use will be a problem for the customers initially. Hopefully, this

lag time issue will soon be resolved, so that customers can access their

prescription information at the same time as the print ones are dispensed.

For medications that are being refilled on a regular basis, it is a matter

of planning for this lag time when renewing your supply.  

I have received my free ScripTalk prescription reader. It is very easy to

use. An instruction CD is included to help with set up and operation. The

ScripTalk labels are on each one of my medications, which enables me to read

all the pertinent information for all my medications, for the first time. 

If your Shoppers Drug Mart Store is totally unwilling or unresponsive to

your drug prescription information needs, tell them to contact Ashesh Desai,

who is the senior manager responsible for this service. If that does not

work, then contact him directly at the coordinates below. He was very

helpful to me.  

Ashesh Desai Bsc. Phm |
Senior Vice-President, Pharmacy Operations and Transformation | 
Shoppers Drug Mart HQ
243 Consumers Road, Toronto ON M2J 4W8 
Tel. 416-490-2769 
Toll free: 1800-746-7737 Open until 8:00 PM and ask for him. 
Email: <> 

At present, there is no link for information regarding the ScripTalk on the

Shoppers Drug Mart website. However, Shoppers Drug Mart’s Accessible

Customer Service Practice document for Ontario can be accessed at:


The ScripTalk Mobile app is also available in the Google Play Store. It

provides another way to read the ScripTalk labels prescription information

on some, but not all, Android devices. ScripTalk is not available at present

for iPhones and other Apple devices, because Apple does not allow the use of

Near Field Communication (NFC), which is required in order to read the RFID

labels being affixed on medication containers for the ScripTalk. 

I would like to thank Rob Sleath and Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers

(ASIC) for all their work on this issue in B.C. and for their help and

advice to me as I worked with my local Shoppers Drug Mart. More information

on ASIC and other drug store chains in B.C. offering the ScripTalk is

available at <; .”