On demand scan and read apps for mobile devices
Many individuals with reading challenges are faced with difficulty reading the information in their environment. Whether text in a technical manual at work, written directions and a handout provided in a class or meeting that may be difficult to read. While computer-based scan and read software have been around for a long time, mobile devices now become a scan and read tool for “on demand” access to print for struggling readers whether for school or work.
On-demand access to print is a topic often addressed with students with significant reading challenges during the assessment of their AT needs. While these apps have been around for a while, new apps, upgrades continue to offer additional options for struggling readers.
For students who benefit from test to speech and seeing the document in its original format, the following apps are solid apps for adults and students with a learning disability and mild intellectual disability:
Claro Scan Pen app (iOS and Android; smartphone/tablets; $9.99 for iOS) – While this has been around for several years, it remains my favorite of the quick access scan and read apps for its stability, accuracy, and access. Claro Scan Pen allows the user to scan (OCR, optical character recognition) a worksheet, menu, form or document, provides a replica of the document scanned and allows selecting any text read aloud. A variety of voices are available, options to change speed, and the color of the selected text read. For individuals with significant reading challenges, the visual representation of material scanned is critical to navigating within a document. Loss of formatting for individuals with vision can create difficulty orienting to the contents of a form or worksheet. Claro Scan Pen can batch scan, offering several scanning pages of a document or worksheet. Images from the camera or Photos can be used to and processed with OCR. Additional features allow sharing the document with other apps and services as well as copying to the clipboard.
Claro Scan Pen Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7Ffleh78q4
Prizmo Go (iOS app for iPad and iPhone; free, in-app purchases) – Prizmo Scanning app with text to speech has been around for years. However, the Prizmo Go app offering quick scan and text to speech options, is a newer app producing “quick capture” scan and read using OCR. The app offers options of taking a picture with the camera or importing an existing image from the Photos library using OCR. Single page scanning and batch scan of multiple pages are options available in the app. Prizmo Go offers the ability to crop an image after importing, selecting the text and listening using text to speech, highlighted text when read as well as navigation using the play and forward/back buttons. The OCR’d text can be translated, shared and copied. The app is compatible with Voiceover.
Handwriting recognition is also present, however trials were marginally accurate. Other features include speech output to assist with orienting the device when scanning. Prizmo offers two views of the scanned text, one showing the original document layout (pictured above in below image) with a second dialog box showing text only and controls for reading, sharing and settings. Prizmo Go offers a more features than Claro Scan Pen app which might be confusing for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Video Review of Prizmo Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiAV3D526Cs
Voice Dream Scanner app (iOS; iPhone/iPad 3.99 sale limited time) – The developer of Voice Dream Reader app recently debuted the Voice Dream Scanning app, offering quick scan and reading of documents with a mobile device. The OCR scanning was very accurate, detecting print labels in documents with images. Voice Dream Scanning app allows instant access of documents scanned with text to speech, the option of text-only document view, options of a variety of voices and the ability to share the scanned information to Voice Dream Reader, as a text or PDF document or copy the text. Batch scanning is an option as well as cropping the initial image before performing OCR to select specific text in the scanned document. Images from the camera or from Photos can be used to process the document using OCR. Navigation within the text and playing text to speech is accessed using the play or forward/backward button.
Voice Dream Scanner app review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dymG9H1UyJA
Comments: Accuracy of the OCR when used with the same document were all good but not perfect. Voice Dream Scanner app was the most accurate when compared with the Claro Scan Pen and Prizmo Go. Although less features, I find the Claro Scan Pen preferred for clients with intellectual disability to instantly process, simplified tools and easy access to any text desired to be read. When accessing forms or worksheets, Claro Scan Pen allows the user to view and access the line of print exactly as the original copy. Although the apps work on iPhones, when scanned text is small, selecting the text to be read aloud can be a bit tricky and requires good vision and dexterity. Using the scanning apps due to the detail, is easiest generally when on an iPad Mini tablet or larger in my experience.
As always however, accuracy of the text to speech is dependent on the quality of the document scanned, steadiness of taking a picture and higher quality camera used. The free Prizmo Go app is a bargain however the other apps are well worth the cost, depending on the needs of the user.
As device capabilities and apps improve, accessing text on demand for struggling readers becomes more and more possible!
What are your favorite apps for quick access to print “on-demand”?
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