Accessing Print on the Fly with Mobile Devices and Apps with OCR and Text to Speech


Apps with text to speech are nothing new. Many apps with text to speech are available for mobile devices to access print on the fly for individuals with visual, learning or cognitive disabilities as may be required in a academic , home setting or in the community. Among the plethora of apps here are a few apps I frequently recommend  to post secondary students and adults with disabilities that need to access print on the fly due to the accuracy of the OCR, fast processing and simplicity of use. Certainly, OCR accuracy is dependent on many factors (hand steadiness, quality of original print, lighting, mobile device camera) however here are just a couple of favorite apps that can be used to quickly take a picture, process with OCR and listen to access:

knfb-reader-iconKNFB Reader (iOS; $99.00 for iPhone/ iPad, Android ). A rather expensive app, however for individuals with a visual impairment, this app provides some of the best OCR and fast scanning and conversion to audio around. It is forgiving and can OCR, some of the smallest print ( 6 point font or less). Scanning a single page or by batch for multiple page OCR is a fast process and even if you import is sideways it will be recognized. When scanning, auditory feedback for orientation is supplied to the user. Features of the app allow scanned text to be read automatically, allows reading in the background, word highlighting and over 19 different recognition languages and over 20 different text to speech languages. For individuals with visual impairment this is an app I frequently recommend given they own a mobile device. .

claro-scanpen-reader-iconClaro ScanPen Reader app (6.99 for iPhone/iPad, Android) – Claro apps are among my favorite apps for their functionality and reasonable cost. Claro ScanPen Reader app is one of their newer apps which primarily  OCR’s images and provides a simple means of reading using text to speech. Tools are limited, but provides a simple, easy method of touch to start text to speech which highlights the text when read aloud. You can move through the text by touching the lines of text to activate. Text to speech modes include word, line and “all”. Seven text highlighting colors are offered. Add on voices in other languages are available for $1.99/voice. I find the scanning is accurate, simple and easy to complete.  The only controls in the app are a X to close the page and the Setting app for choices of voice, voice rate, selection mode and highlight color as aforementioned.

Accuracy when scanning is dependent on numerous factors as above mentioned. Claro software provides suggestions for using images and scanning text on their website post “Tips for Taking Photos on iPhone and iPad”. Although this article may be geared to the Claro app, the tips apply generally to taking pictures for use with OCR apps.

Apps with OCR and text to speech tools providing on demand access to print are just one of many assistive technology tools that can level the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Many other low tech to high tech tools provide reading supports for individuals with disabilities.

What are your favorite mobile device apps for on demand access of print?

More for your OT eTool Kit.



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 Android, App Reviews, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Dyslexia, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Learning Disability, Low Vision/ Blindness, Reading, Text to Speech, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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