Optical character recognition (OCR) Software

OCR software converts paper documents and PDF files into manageable electronic data. This 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.

People with visual impairment benefit from using highly specialised scanning software (OCR). It helps them read printed material such as books, journals, reports and other publications. It is also useful for those with learning difficulties who find reading difficult and those whose physical impairments prevent them handling and reading the printed word.

How it works: Place a book or printed material on the scanner that is connected to your computer. The scanner then takes an electronic picture of the material. The OCR software then translates the information into computer text, which can be read with a screen reader. OCR software is unable to read handwritten material.

Open Book OCR softwareFine Reader OCR software

OCR Programs

  • Kurzweil 3000. It offers a combined scanning and reading application that lets you convert printed text into audio feedback simply and easily.

  • Texthelp Read&Write Gold V8. Essentially aimed at those with dyslexia and other text difficulties, but it has an excellent built-in OCR capability, which scans and reads any document.

Open Source, Freeware and other OCR options

  • OCR using Microsoft Office document imaging (Source: Makeuseof.com). Doing OCR using the document imaging tool is a bit limiting because it accepts only TIFF (or MDI) formats. But that’s not too much of a bother as any graphic application can be used to convert an image to TIFF. In the screenshot below, MS Paint was used to convert a JPEG to a TIFF.

    Open the file in Microsoft Office Document Imaging – File – Open.
    Click the little eye icon – Recognize Text Using OCR.
    Click on MS Word Icon – Send Text to Word.
    A MS Word File opens with the editable converted text.
    Alternatively, you can also use MS Paint to select a specific area and copy it to the clipboard. Open MS Office Document Imaging – select Page – Paste Page to copy the selection for OCR.

  • KNFB Reader.OCR text to speech on a mobile phone

  • SimpleOCR (freeware). If you have a scanner and want to avoid retyping your documents, SimpleOCR is the fast, free way to do it. The SimpleOCR freeware is 100% free and not limited in any way. Anyone can use SimpleOCR for free--home users, educational institutions, even corporate users. If your documents have multi-column layouts, non-standard fonts, poorquality or color images, you will need one of their commercial OCR applications or Imaging SDKs to get an accurate read.

  • FreeOCR. This free OCR software uses the Tesseract OCR engine. Tesseract OCR code was developed at HP Labs between 1985 and 1995 and is currently with Google. It is thought of as one of the most accurate open source OCR engines available. FreeOCR is a simple Windows interface for that underlying code.

    • It supports most image files and multi-page TIFF files.
    • It can handle PDF formats and is also compatible with TWAIN devices like scanners.
    • FreeOCR also has the familiar double window interface with easy to understand settings.
    • Before starting the one click conversion process, you can adjust the image contrast for better readability.
    Downloading, installing and using FreeOCR

    FreeOCR (v.2.03) requires Microsoft Net 2.0 framework. The Windows XP/Vista compatible 4.38MB software can also be downloaded from this alternate site. Free OCR tools come with their own limitations. And scanning a page has to do a lot with resolutions, contrasts and clarity of fonts. From an average user’s standpoint, 100% OCR accuracy remains a pipedream. Though the free tools were adequate with printed text, they failed with normal cursive handwritten text. My personal preference for offhand OCR use leans towards the two Microsoft products I mentioned in the beginning. (Source: Makeuseof.com).

Free OCR software

SARA Scanning and Reading Device

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