Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Scan and Read Technology

Tools to read print matter out loud

What does it do?

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.

What kinds of scan and read devices are there?

Desktop Scanners

These devices 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. Pearl uses OpenBook Software.

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 saving can be performed on the device or sent to a storage device.

Handheld Scanners

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.

Related Apps

Graphic of a speaker icon over a printed page.

How do I see 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 would need to 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. Do we have this in our lending library?


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Jule Ann Lieberman

Jule Ann Lieberman has earned her Master of Science in Low Vision Therapy, is dual certified by Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals ( as Low Vision Therapist and Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist. Jule Ann began her work in assistive technology instructing blind and low vision adults in the use of assistive technology in 1998. She joined TechOWL, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University (formerly known as Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology) in 2013 as Assistive Technology Specialist and continues to provide information and assistance, consultation, demonstrations, and public awareness training in the use of assistive technology. Jule Ann has presented educational sessions at national and regional assistive technology conferences for many years. She has been legally blind with a progressive vision impairment since age of 16 and enjoys learning new technologies and how it meets the needs of those with vision loss and blindness.

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