Converting Hard Copy Text to Digital Format


I can’t tell you how often I talk with clients about methods of converting hard copy text/papers to digital format for purposes of accessing information using text to speech, completing forms or for organizational reasons. Whatever the reason there are many ways of completing this task using portable devices such as portable scanners, scanning mice or  a mobile device with a camera and apps.  So what might be some good choices?

Using a Mobile Device with a Camera.

One of the most frequently used methods of scanning documents and converting it to electronic format is with the use of a mobile device with a camera. There are a couple of options when using your mobile device: use your camera or use a scanning app.

a. Using your camera to make a digital copy can work when all you need is a copy and quality of the image is not a concern. Taking a picture and storing it in your photo album, emailing it or saving it in a document can work. Lighting and positioning  can cause shadows and a product that may not be centered or flat. If all you need to to view it at a later time, that can work!

b. If a more professional copy is needed to share with a client,  employer or business purpose, use of a OCR Scanning app is recommended. You will still use the camera of your mobile device, but with a scanning app that will literally scan it using OCR- optical character recognition which detects the letters/word and symbols of the image and save it in a format that is readable or editable. The most typical formats are doc., txt or PDF formats that creates readable and editable text document documents.  When using a scanning app, most apps allow cropping, dimming or brightening and some editing capabilities. The scanning process reducing lighting and shadowing problems and allows cropping the scanned image or document to a standard size document creating a professional and cleaner copy. Scanning apps allow you to save the scanned document in a chosen format, and share the document via email, cloud service (dependent on the app) or for use in another app. This method allows easy storing, sharing and retrieval at a later time.

Scanning apps are plentiful for iOS and Android with a variety of features and paired or connected services. Here are a few of my favorite OCR apps:

OCR scanner apps for iOS:

Scanner Pro app by Readdle  (3.99 for iPhone, iPad) Exports to email, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneNote, OneDrive, iCloud, Evernote.

Readiris App ( 14.99 for iPad only) Compatible with VoiceOver.. Exports to email, Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.

Text Grabber (free; iPhone, iPad) Compatible with VoiceOver.. Exports via email, Evernote, Twitter or Facebook

OCR scanning apps for Android:

CamScanner app (1.99); Exports via email, Evernote, OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Genius Scan (free/6.99); Exports via email, Evernote, Dropbox or Box.

Scanbot app (free) ; Exports via email, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox or Box

Portable handheld scanners.

These portable document scanners are small and can be easily carried in a case or back pack. The following portable scanners are rated well and can be easily transported:

Doxie Portable Scanner (  129.00 ). Portable OCR scanner about the size of a paper towel roll and weighing about 1.7 pounds. Scan  Syncs with PC, MAC and iPad using an SD card. No computer required.

Doxie One

Doxie Go Plus (178.00). Portable OCR scanner same as above however longer battery life and higher DPI.

Scanning Mouse.

A scanning mouse can be a portable solution used almost any where to scan in a document when connected to a laptop or

Iris Executive Scanning Mouse 2 (77.00). Move the mouse over a document with scanning feature to input text information and convert to a digital format. Works with Window, Mac. Here is how it works:

There are a number of portable options to convert hard copy text to digital format, allowing individuals access to electronic documents for reading, writing or to organize files. Mobile devices and apps provide an easy method of managing documents for a variety of purposes by individuals with disabilities. With the availability of mobile devices, low cost apps can provide an inexpensive method of converting hard copy to electronic format. Other portable devices also are available to aid managing documents.

More for your OT eTool Kit.

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology




About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in Accessibility, Accessories, Android, App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Cause and Effect apps, iPad, iPhone, OCR, Organization, Reading, Scanning, Text to Speech. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Converting Hard Copy Text to Digital Format

  1. Diane Novatnik says:

    Yup… Scanner Pro!



  2. Deb Wolke says:

    Years ago I purchased a Note Taking Pen that was held like a pen and scanned over typed sentences in books. The text was then download into the computer. Anyone using this?

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