Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Scan and Read Technology – OCR


Read a printed page out loud.


About Scan and Read Technology – OCR 


Scan and read devices include hardware, software, and mobile app options. They turn text into audio output. These tools are often used by people with low vision, and can also be helpful for people with learning disabilities.

The technology used for these tools is called “Optical Character Recognition”, or OCR.

What kinds of scan and read devices are there?

Desktop Devices

Desktop scanners may include their own talking software or connect to your computer to provide the reading aloud. Examples include the ClearReader from Optelec and the Pearl document camera from Freedom Scientific.

Both desktop scanners and mobile apps can be set to recognize columns and provide continuous “batch” scanning of multiple pages. Once the last page is scanned the device can begin reading the text aloud. In some devices you can save the text or send it to a storage drive.

There are also desktop magnifiers – devices with their own computer screen – that are able to read aloud. Look for the models marked with “OCR.”

Handheld Devices

Some handheld electronic magnifiers, such as the Optelec Compact Speech models, will let you listen to as well as view your text.

For handheld scanning without a magnification screen, consider the OrCam Read. Pen devices like the C-Pen Reader or ScanMarker can also read text aloud, but need to be directed line-by-line.

Wearable Devices

Companies like OrCam and Envision make scanning devices that you wear on your head. This keeps your hands free, while directing the camera at whatever you are looking towards – whether it is a book, a package, or a sign that you need to read. The scanner is often built onto a frame that you wear like glasses.

Related Apps



How can I find out what’s new?

Technology changes all the time. To find out about the latest options for these, you can type keywords into a search engine such as Google, Safari, Firefox, or Bing on a computer or tablet. These are the keywords for this type of item:


  • optical character recognition apps
  • handheld OCR
  • scan and read pens


How do I find out more?

If you live in the US outside of Pennsylvania, you can find your state’s AT program.

If you live in Pennsylvania:

  • you could contact TechOWL to work with a specialist. We can meet with you and sometimes demonstrate this equipment. We can also help with different ways to get one for your own.
  • you might borrow this equipment to try out.

Are these in Pennsylvania’s AT Lending Library?