The UDL Educational Technology Guide 2019-2020: Technology for Special Education

John F. O'Sullivan

Subsection 1 OCR

Optical character recognition or ORC used to be something that people were not aware of or thought would never go mainstream. Optical character recognition is cool technology that turns a picture of text or a PDF into plain text. Think of the power when you take a picture of a worksheet to convert it to text and then have a computer read it to you. For students with a visual impairment or a reading disability, this technology is excellent. 

To my surprise, this technology still looks like it is going to go mainstream. Google Drive now has optical character recognition or OCR technology. Other platforms are starting to follow. Software developers are looking to improve on past versions of the products they sell. OCR is a technology that is being added to numerous products. At some point, this is going to be standard technology at some point. 

Google OCR Honorable Mention 

Google Has OCR technology to convert a picture to text. This is very important for electronic organization. You can take a picture store it on Google Drive then convert to text. OCR technology is not perfect. It can make mistakes but does works very well. Google OCR converts handwriting to text. If you have hard to read handwriting, there will be a few mistakes. However, if you have print handwriting as most young people do, then it works very well. Remember, this technology is developing and will only get better.

OneDrive OCR

OneDrive Converts PDFs to text.

OneNote Supports OCR

You can convert a picture to text with OneNote.

iPad Apps

Voice Dream Scanner Honorable Mention
This app performs optical character recognition on text documents. The app is moderately priced and gets great reviews. The company that makes this app has a good reputation because it makes a number of other outstanding apps. 

Prizmo - Scanning, OCR, and Speech  

With this app, you can scan in PDFs and have them read to you. You take a picture of a document, and it reads it to you. You need good light for this to work. There is also a Macintosh version of this program. This is a great app, and it does work. However, it takes a little bit of patience to get it to work correctly. 

Prizmo Go - Instant Text OCR

This is a free app that has optical character recognition for an iPhone or iPad. You can buy in-app purchases if you like the service. The app gets good ratings.

Google Play OCR Apps


OCR is also known as Optical character recognition is an application or hardware that turns pictures into plain text. Pictures could mean an actual picture you take of a document or a PDF converted to text.


OCR Instantly Pro

You can convert a picture to text. This app can translate text into a different language. 


Text Fairy (OCR Text Scanner)

This is a good OCR app.

PC Software


These programs will scan in the documents, but in some cases, you might need another program to read it. If you want to edit them in a word processing program, then you should be okay. Please read the information on the link under the product.  

ABBYY FineReader  

This is OCP software for the PC. 


OCR Software – Readiris

This is software that does OCR scans.

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