Seeing AI for recognising things and reading out what it has found!

According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind.   It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you.  It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech.  It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description.  Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc.  Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.

Another college student called Veronica in USA has provided a very helpful Seeing AI review from a blind student’s point of view

Microsoft have produced a YouTube video about the Seeing AI app.

Thank you so much Stuart for providing this strategy.

Stuart Ball is an Assessor at the Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Free Microsoft Office Lens speeds productivity

phone Office lens

Taking an photo of the screen

Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone  that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.

image alignment for OCR

Making sure the image is straight for OCR

That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later.  If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on.  Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text.  The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment.  The app will also save it as a PDF.

ready for export

Ready for exporting

The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time,  as  I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .

Getting started with Microsoft Office Lens from cnet

Abi James – Researcher University of Southampton.

KNFB Reader app – Take a photo then have text read aloud

KNFB iphone app

knfbReader by Sensotec nv – View of the iPhone screen with a scanned document and output

I received a free version of the app through my role on the British Dyslexia Association’s New Technologies Committee and I love it!  For my own personal use (dyslexia rather than VI), I’ve historically relied on apps such as Prizmo or ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon). I started using this app a few months ago and for me this app is a big step up for two reasons:
1. Exceptionally fast user experience
2. Exceptional accuracy

1. Exceptionally fast user experience

The app’s purpose is essentially the same as Prizmo / ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon) / CapturaTalk.  However, the main advantage for me is that the time from snapping the photo and to starting to hear it being read aloud is a couple of seconds on my old iPhone 4S, and instantaneous on my iPhone 6.  They do this by:
a) Having an auto-read function, so as soon as it has text from the photo it reads aloud to you, without you having to press another button.
b) Starting to read before the whole page has been analysed.  As soon as it’s recognised the first sentence it starts to read that aloud.

The user interface is really nice – open the app, hold it above the page and press one button!  Then sit back and relax while the page is read to you.  This is a big plus for day-to-day use.

2. Exceptional accuracy

From my non-scientific playing with the app, the OCR accuracy appears to be at least as good as (and I think better than) ClaroSpeak’s OCR addon, and it is much better than Prizmo.

So money-no-object it wins hands down for me – an ideal example of an app that does only one thing and does it very well. Cost £79.99 for the iPhone
Neil Cottrell
LexAble

MyScript Calculator for handwritten calculations

“I really like the way I can scribble a maths equation on my iPhone and it will recognise my writing and then give me the answer!”

writing equation

recognising script

 

script recognised

 

 

 

 

 

 

answer provided

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MyScript Calculator is free and can be downloaded onto an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or phone.  It is easy to use and copes with quite complex mathematical operations.

Rumi – RCAST, University of Tokyo

Using howjsay . com to help with the pronunciation of complex words

howjsay screen grab

“Many of our students like to use the ‘howjsay’ website as part of their pre-reading of lecture notes. It gives an accurate pronunciation of unfamiliar technical terms, which can be used to prepare students for quick recognition when a word is said in a lecture. It also provides a multi-sensory input which will increase spelling accuracy. In addition, it can help students confidence in preparation for a presentation. Pronunciation can be practised to hopefully minimise slips and increase fluency.

Students have commented that it has a consistently higher accuracy level than some of the usual text to speech programs, which can struggle with technical words that are not phonetically regular.  It is particularly popular with our medics.  It has a clear and uncluttered layout and has the added benefit of not being license restricted so it can be used on many different pieces of hardware. Finally, as it is free so is available to students who are not DSA funded.”

This strategy was sent in via the Add a New Strategy form and we would like to thank The Disability Advisory Service at Imperial College 

AudioNote for iPad & iPhone

AudioNote screen grabsAudioNote is a fantastic note taking app. The official description from the app store tells you how you can synchronise notes and audio with each key point being linked to the moment when the lecturer talks about that subject.  Because it works on a tablet or phone there is no need to wait for the laptop to boot up.

Bookmarks can be created throughout the audio recording to highlight important points for easy referencing.  It allows you to take pictures and insert them into your notes and AudioNotes can be exported to Evernote, saved and organised there. A yellow background can be used instead of white for those with visual stress/sensitivity. It costs £2.99 and is available from the iTunes store.

This YouTube video is a good introduction to AudioNote

This comes with thanks to the Disability Advisory Service at Imperial College