Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is used in conjunction with a PC and scanner to copy printed text to the computer and hold it electronically so it can be read by a screen reader or magnified with software. There is mainstream OCR software available that just copies the text.

Mainstream computer software

There are many OCR packages sold for sighted people, most of which are accurate enough to be used by people with sight problems as a text reader, in combination with the magnification, speech or Braille output software used to access the PC. This mainstream software is cheaper than those products designed specially for users with sight problems, but because they are designed for sighted users they can prove more difficult, or impossible, to operate with magnification, speech or Braille.

Scansoft Omnipage Standard V16.0. Omnipage should work with most Windows speech output systems; However, there are many versions of Omnipage and you should check with your screen reader supplier before buying. Prices start at approximately £69.00 and it is available from various suppliers, including RNIB.

Mobile phone OCR software

KNFB reader

This is software that can be installed on some mobile phones. It uses the phone's camera to take a picture of the print, analyses it and turns it into synthetic speech. Spoken information is fed back about accuracy of positioning of the camera for taking the picture, so that this can be improved for a better result if necessary. Text can be saved for later re-reading. Price from £695. Available from RNIB and Sight and Sound Technology.

Beyo Reader

Similar in operation to KNFB Reader, but accuracy of camera positioning is indicated by a series of beeps. Text cannot be saved. Available from Computer Room Services, price around £77.

Text Scout

Similar to KNFB Reader and Beyo Reader, but the phone needs to have internet access as the analysis of text is carried out on a remote system and then sent back to be spoken by the handset.

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