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

John F. O'Sullivan

Section 11 Optical Character Recognition


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 or a PDF converted to text. You can find applications that read the text in this book. You can also look at the section on text to speech readers. OCR software can scan in text and in some cases read it to you.

Seeing AI: Talking Camera for the Blind Honorable Mention 

This free app gives someone with low vision information about their surroundings. The app also reads text to you. The app gets excellent reviews.


Voice Dream Scanner Honorable Mention 

This is a highly rated optical character recognition scanner. You can take a picture of text and then have the app read it to you. You can then save the text and export into different formats.

Microsoft Office Lens|PDF Scan

This app is a scanner that also converts pictures to text. The reviews are also good. This product can be used to import reading material into OneNote.

Claro ScanPen

With this app, you take a picture of a document. It will read the part of the document that you choose. You can even annotate the document.

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. 


This app is the most highly rated in this category. The price is higher than some might expect for an app. I see OCR text readers as a big market for people with reading disabilities, visual impairments and other disabilities that affect your ability to read. Often times the cost of not using cutting edge technology is much higher for people with disabilities. This app can change lives and is well worth it for the right buyer.


This app can read text to you and translate into different languages. You can also buy in-app purchases.


This app is designed for someone that is dyslexic to be able to read everyday items. The idea is that if you have a child with a reading disability activity reading, with help, everyday instances that will improve reading skills. The natural positive consequences of reading everyday items help improve reading skills. The idea is sound. However, this type of app is typically used with individuals with visual impairments. I like the concept because it shows an understanding of how people learn to read.

Prizmo Go - Instant Text OCR

This app gets good reviews. The app includes in-app purchases.

Google Play OCR Apps


OCR also is 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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