by Tom Tobin
On behalf of ACB Diabetics in Action (ACBDA), I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to ACB for dedicating the November issue of the Forum to Diabetes Awareness Month!
As our readers may or may not know, diabetes, both Type I and Type II, is at epidemic levels here in the United States as well as around the world. As a result of poor diets, obesity and any number of poor lifestyle choices, diabetes is running rampant. If this epidemic is not properly addressed, the risk to our health care system could be catastrophic, and the impact to our financial systems could bring this country to its knees!
The reasons behind these problems are simple: unchecked diabetes can lead to costly, debilitating and horrific complications from the disease, including, but not limited to, vision loss, heart disease, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation in one’s extremities), amputations or, worse, death. Among working-age individuals, diabetic retinopathy results in vision loss and is still the leading cause of vision impairment today, despite the tremendous advancements in medical care.
So, the solution is also simple — effective preventative care! If diabetes is caught early, using advancements in diagnosis, one can effectively manage diabetes by using advanced tools such as oral medications, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, blood glucose meters, insulin pens, etc. These solutions can help to normalize blood sugar levels, which results in the prevention or delay of the onset of complications mentioned above, as proven in the Diabetes Control and Complications Study (1983-1992).
So, in today’s society, we have the tools to effectively treat individuals with diabetes, preventing/delaying complications, helping them to live happy, healthier lives! However, for individuals who have already experienced complications from this insidious disease, i.e. vision loss, it is even more critical to normalize blood sugar levels. But many of the tools mentioned above are not fully accessible and, thus, unavailable to diabetics living with vision loss.
This is where ACB Diabetics in Action comes into play! Since 2005, ACBDA has been serving the needs of individuals living with diabetes and vision loss. Over the past 17 years ACBDA has worked hard to advocate for fully accessible durable medical equipment (DME) so that blind or low-vision diabetics can utilize the tools available to everyone else living with diabetes.
Recently, ACBDA has had some success in the legislative arena, working with Congress to compel the pharmaceutical industry to integrate universal design into their products, so these life-saving devices would work for everyone! Moreover, ACBDA is working in collaboration with other blindness consumer organizations on the Accessible Insulin Pump Task Force, has engaged insulin pump manufacturers and is helping to educate them on why making insulin pumps work for everyone is not only the right thing to do, but a shrewd business decision. Progress is being made in this critical space as well!
As president of ACB Diabetics in Action, I am, for the first time in a long time, very much encouraged by the progress being made in the adaptive diabetes management arena! However, as these advances in technology continue to evolve, ACB Diabetics in Action stands ready to serve individuals living with diabetes and vision loss, today and in the future.
So, I invite you to enjoy this issue of “The ACB Braille Forum” dedicated to Diabetes Awareness Month, with articles written by members of our board of directors and others with subject matter expertise in the adaptive diabetes management space! If you would like more information about ACB Diabetics in Action, or if you are interested in joining our special-interest affiliate, please contact us via email at [email protected]! We welcome your interest and participation!