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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Optical Character Recognition Systems

Optical character recognition (OCR) systems provide persons who are blind or visually impaired with the capacity to scan printed text and then have it spoken in synthetic speech or saved to a computer file. There are three essential elements to OCR technology—scanning, recognition, and reading text.
   Initially, a printed document is scanned by a camera. OCR software then converts the images into recognized characters and words and creates temporary files containing the text’s characters and page layout. The recognition process takes account of the logical structure of the language. An OCR system will deduce that the word “tke” at the beginning of a sentence is a mistake and should be read as the word “the.” OCR systems also use a lexicon and apply spell-checking techniques similar to those found in many word processors. The synthesizer in the OCR system then speaks the recognized text. Finally, the information is stored in an electronic form. In some OCRs these temporary files can be converted into formats retrievable by commonly used computer software such as word processors, spreadsheets, and databases. A person who is blind or visually impaired can access the scanned text by using adaptive technology devices that magnify the computer screen or provide speech or braille output.
   Current generation OCR systems provide very good accuracy and formatting capabilities at prices that are up to ten times lower than a few years ago. The price for the most popular PC-based OCR systems is about $1,000. This does not include the personal computer and screen access equipment. Prices of self-contained OCR systems and those that come bundled with a PC range from $3,500 to $5,500.
   Here are some questions to ask when purchasing optical character recognition systems:
•   Do you prefer a stand-alone OCR product or a software-based product?
•   Is the software-based OCR system compatible with your computer’s operating system?
•   Do you require screen-reading capabilities in addition to the OCR?
•   Do you require braille output?

19 Products in Category

Product Table

Product NameProduct DescriptionDistributor ContactImage/Multimedia Available?
Book Reader V100Bookreader v100 is speciallyDesigned for book scanning. The Shadow Elimination Element eliminates the book spine shadow and text distortion associated with books scanned on flatbeds and copiers. The Plustek BookReader provides high quality speech output to make your book reading experience more enjoyable. The user-friendly magnifying tool can be used independent of the BookReader system and gives you complete access to all other programs you might need enlarged print for; it provides a "see and speak" function while you are reading the text. All scanned items can be saved as a searchable PDF. You can even use the book reader software to read any other PDF documents Scanned documents can be saved in MP3 or WAV format. By using a portable audio player, you can enjoy listening to books anytime and anywhere. The color contrast function increases the visual effectiveness and helps those with color blindness using certain color combinations. This allows for a more enjoyable and easy reading. Zoom text function provides the ability to enlarge documents to allow for easier on screen reading. Order Book Reader V100 from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Cicero Text Reader Scans printed documents and turns them into speech or braille. Cicero starts talking automatically as soon as the page scan is complete. Documents can be displayed in large print on screen and can be edited, saved, and printed.
Cleareader BasicThe Optelec ClearReader+ Basic brings portability, simplicity and a sleek design to text-to-speech and OCR reading and scanning devices. The multilingual and AC Powered ClearReader+ Basic allows a user who is blind or visually impaired to scan and read aloud magazines, books, or receipts within a matter of seconds. A high quality and reliable speech output in natural sounding voices make it possible to rediscover the joys of reading anytime and anywhere with the Optelec ClearReader+ Basic. Order Cleareader Basic from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Cleareader+Reading anytime and anywhere with the Optelec ClearReader+. ClearReader+ combines fast text-to-speech, a choice of high quality naturally sounding voices, and all in an attractive portable design. Simply switch-on, scan your printed reading material and start listening in an instant. It's compact, portable and easy to carry with a built-in carrying handle. Features include: Intuitive operation - simple adjustment controls for play, pause, forward, back, reading speed and voice selection. Built-in high quality stereo sound speakers. Integrated object lighting for reading in places with poor external lighting. High quality text recognition - select up to 4 voices including UK-English voices (Daniel and Serena) and an Indian-English voice (Sangeeta). Headphone connector - connect a headset and listen discretely. Order Cleareader+ from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Clearreader+ AdvancedClearReader+ Advanced Features: Read aloud device - click and begin listening in a few seconds. Intuitive operation - simple adjustment controls for play, pause, forward, back, reading speed and voice selection. Compact, portable and easy to carry with a built-in carrying handle. Built-in high quality stereo sound speakers. Multilingual text recognition with 4 selectable voices in up to 4 different languages including UK-English voices and an Indian-English voice. Rechargeable Li-ion batteries providing up to 5 hours of continuous use. Order Clearreader+ Advanced from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Eye-Pal ReaderA USB device with a camera on a stand. The camera uses a motion detector to know when to scan a page of text. The text is spoken and can be saved. Order Eye-Pal Reader from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Eye-pal SoloThe Eye-Pal SOLO is a voice output reading machine and optical character recognition device designed for use by individuals who are blind or have low vision. This motion activated optical character recognition device reads from a book, newspaper, or other printed material automatically after the material is placed face down on the unit's scanner. Reading stops when the material is removed. When a hand is waved near the reading material, the reading pauses; when the hand passes again, the reading resumes. Order Eye-pal Solo from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
ezVIPA simplified version of VIP which can be operated with a 4-button trackball or number keypad. Can be set up to scan and save a single page or up to 10 pages, with saved pages replaced one-by-one with successive scans. Has same reading view and voice, color, font, size, spacing options and online and keypad help as VIP. Scans text and pictures.
Kurzweil 1000 Converts print into speech. Scans books, articles and bills, and reads the information out loud. Scanned text can be saved for future reference and modification. Can be used to open and read a variety of electronic text formats and search, download, and read electronic books and magazines directly from sites such as, Web-Braille and other electronic repositories.
Kurzweil 3000 Displays printed or electronic text on the computer screen. Text can be spoken by a speech synthesizer or read by the user on the computer screen. Available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
OpenBook Scans and converts printed documents or graphics-based text into an electronic text format. Provides two text-to-speech software synthesizers—RealSpeak, which features a natural human-sounding voice, and ViaVoice, which provides practical and efficient speech for editing or skimming documents. Supports most hardware speech synthesizers. Other features include a fax utility, copy function, and online book search.
OvationPortable optical character recognition system that scans and stores text of any kind and converts it to adjustable audio-output. Flatbed scanner accommodates newspapers, books, and magazines. Stores chapters of up to 20 pages. Provides audio cues to signal the beginning and end of a successful scan.
Poet Compact 2The Poet Compact2 is a standalone reading machine for people who are blind. This all-in-one reading machine can read virtually any kind of printed matter with just the press of a button. There is no need to study lengthy manuals and you do not need to have any prior knowledge of computers to operate the Poet Compact2. The Poet Compact2 features just two control buttons, along with adjustable dials for volume and reading speed. It's extremely easy to use. With a press of the first button, it scans and recognizes text quickly, simultaneously converting text into high-quality speech output. The second button is the pause button and stops and starts the speech. The control knobs are used to adjust the volume and reading speed to your preference, even when Poet is running. All controls are located in an aesthetically pleasing position on the front panel. Sales department at BAUM USA
Poet Compact 2+The Poet Compact2 is a standalone reading machine for people who are blind. This all-in-one reading machine can read virtually any kind of printed matter with just the press of a button. There is no need to study lengthy manuals and you do not need to have any prior knowledge of computers to operate the Poet Compact2. The Poet Compact2+ is a model for more advanced users who prefer more features. This model has a front panel that offers more controls and possibilities, for example: access to menu functions, speech settings, plug-ins, CD-drive for listening to DAISY-books, MP3 files, connecting USB-sticks, a BAUM Pronto! organizer, etc. For braille literate and deaf and blind users a BAUM braille display can also be connected to the Poet Compact2+. It is possible to specify another language in addition to English. BAUM USA sales department
Portset ReaderStand-alone scanner with British English speech incorporating a male and two female voices. Can be used to read letters, books, magazines, and bills. Has a built-in floppy disk drive that allows for the transfer of any scanned document to a computer.
SARA Scanning and Reading ApplianceStand-alone reading machine that allows users to scan and read books, bills, magazines and other documents. Reads in 29 human-sounding voices, 19 language dialects and 12 languages. An optional display screen or a television screen may be used to magnify text and customize background color schemes. The majority of the buttons are big and colorful with tactile shapes that differentiate one from another. Order SARA Scanning and Reading Appliance from The Chicago Lighthouse Store
Simon Reading MachineNew version of the Pronto stand-alone reading machine with a flatbed scanner. Has two commands (start and stop), three voice settings (volume, speed and pitch), and easy-to-remember text navigation cursor controls.
Text Cloner ProScanning software designed to work with a user’s existing screen reader. Has two different scanning methods: high-speed and high-detailed
VIPScans and automatically converts text into the user-selected type font and letter size, 9 voice options, letter spacing, colors, and reading view. Once configured, ezVIP operation is performed with number keypad and keyboard. Text is also spoken in 2 of the 4 reading views (Word Wrap and RSVP). Reading views include: Word Wrap fills the screen with text; RSVP displays one word at a time; Marquee smoothly scrolls a single line across the screen; ImageView shows you the original page and a magnified line of text scrolling beneath it. Also scans and saves pictures which can be enlarged. Online help and one-key keypad help (voiced and large print) – intuitive on-screen “buttons” identify keypad keys to be used. Scanned text can be edited. Can be used with CCTV with PC connection to display split screen camera image and VIP word processor text.

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