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The Prodigy Voice Speaks

Editor's Note: Ruth Hogue is a member of AEBC and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a passionate advocate for blind and low vision diabetics to be able to access talking meters, etc. and control their diabetes so they can live well with diabetes.

If you are a diabetic, you know the importance of blood glucose monitoring. If you are in the process of losing, or have already lost, your sight due to diabetic retinopathy, a complication of the disease, then what? Monitoring becomes a difficult task, as there are so few talking blood glucose metres on the market today. In the past, talking metres were bulky and expensive, but you had to bite the bullet, as the risk of further complications made blood glucose testing all the more important. Now, there is a talking blood glucose metre called the Prodigy Voice coming to Canada (approval for sale here is pending) that will address these issues.

The third generation of talking blood glucose metres, the Prodigy Voice, is the genius of Diagnostic Devices Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina, and has received awards for accessibility and affordability from both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind in the United States. This praise is hardly surprising, given that the process of developing the product and its manual, as well as training technical support staff, included input from the blind and partially sighted community.

So what's so special about the Prodigy Voice? It's 3.78 inches long (95 mm), 1.7 inches wide (55 mm), 0.71 inch in height (18 mm), and weighs only 2.4 ounces (68 grams)--all of which make it very portable for a pocket or purse. It has raised buttons with contrasting colours, as well as an indent to indicate where to insert the test strip, but its most important feature is that it speaks and guides the user through all the steps of testing, in the setting mode, and in the memory storage of 450 previous tests which other meters on the market do not do. In addition, it has a repeat button, an ear jack, and a standard USB port to easily connect to your computer. A printed and audible CD manual comes with the metre, but it can also be obtained in braille or a Word document upon request. And for users wishing to test on other areas such as the palm, forearm, thigh or calf, the Voice metre offers alternate site testing. Finally, if you need help, technical support staff has been trained with the assistance of blind and partially sighted people, so they can understand problems from an unsighted person's perspective.

As a 44-year-old living with type 1 diabetes for 35 years, I have been blind for 21 years, and I have seen talking blood glucose metres come and go. Although I had to purchase my metre from the U.S. for $85 (American), I felt my health was worth the cost. I have used the Prodigy Voice for two years now, and it has given me the independence I was looking for. I was able to cancel the visits from the health-care professionals, and I know I can check my blood glucose readings, even in the middle of the night, when experiencing a hypoglycemic episode; my husband, who has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), no longer has to struggle to help me read the result. I also find it useful to be able to re-check my blood sugar reading using the memory function, if I was distracted before measuring my insulin. I can also use the repeat button to repeat either instructions or the last test result, if I missed it. I have heard the Prodigy Voice referred to as the "Cadillac of talking blood glucose metres" by other blind and partially sighted users. As a fellow consumer, I would definitely agree with this assessment.

For more information on the Prodigy Voice, contact Diagnostic Devices Inc., by calling toll-free 1-800-366-5901, emailing intlsales@prodigymeter.com or visiting their website at http://www.prodigymeter.com.

Comments

It appears that test strips for the Prodigy Voice Meter are no longer shipped to Canada. Wonder if one of the inferior meter vendors has had anything to do with that? Has CNIB made any effort to get the device approved in Canada? Are they any longer in the advocacy business?

Dale Leavens.

Can the Prodigy Voice be purchased in Canada now, and if not how do you go about ordering it along with the test strips? I was also wondering if the Prodigy voice reports results in millimotes/litre or milligrams/deciliter.
Thank you.

Hi there,

I asked around about the Prodigy Voice and other glucose meters, and here is what I found out.

Unfortunately, the Prodigy Voice is not available in Canada at this time.

Here are some responses I received when I put this to our members.

"I have the Accu-Chek talking meter. You have to purchase it, but you can get it reimbursed by the Canadian Diabetes Association or by your local ODSP office.
You can check them out on line at:"
http://www.accu-chek.com

"I don't know how up to date the information on the following webpage is but it may be some help to the person looking for a talking glucose meter."
http://asic.bc.cx/Resources/MedicalSupplies.shtml

Several people said they used the Oracle and liked it.

Hope this is helpful.

Marc