Claro ScanPen for image to text scanning with text to speech

Claro Scanpen used with an exam paperI have found that Claro ScanPen works well with typed text and has the advantage of real time scanned conversions without an internet connection.  You can take a photo of the text using your smartphone camera and the app will scan the content and read it aloud using optical character recognition (OCR). Having had the text read out you can copy and paste sections into another app such as Notes.

Claro Software have created the a video showing you how to use Claro ScanPen with Guided Access

It works both on an iOS or Android phones and tablets and is available from the Apple app store and Google Play. The Android version is free and updates have fixed some of the glitches, the iOS version costs £6.99 outright at the time of writing.  This version has a restricted number of voices for different languages, whereas the premium version with an annual payment of £9.99 provides unlimited access to many different languages and option to have 10 free scans before paying as well as a 14 day trial.

Dr Abi James – Research Fellow, University of Southampton.

Using text to speech tools from Microsoft

add speak to quick access barIn MS Office programs you can get instant access to text to speech via the  ‘speak’ button by using the Quick Action toolbar in Word and other Office programs.  Go to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar > Choose All Commands from the drop down menu > scroll down to Speak > add

 

Craig Mill added “I also like the option to create a customised or personal Tab in Word’s Ribbon with essential tools such as Page Background Colour, Spelling and Grammar, Speak etc.  You can also turn off all the other Tabs so you’re only left with your own set of tools – makes Word’s Ribbon a bit more manageable. To learn more go to Making the Most of Microsoft Word 2016 to Support Learners with Literacy Difficulties – a New Guide!

Literacy buttons on a small Office ribbon

 

 

 

 

“Immersive Reading Tools which were originally available in OneNote (and required a download) are now available in Office 365 – Word Online and OneNote as standard – no installation required. It’s also cross platform so will work on a Mac with Safari browser.

To access the Learning Tools in Word Online or OneNote Online, log into your account, open Word or OneNote, go to the View menu and click Immersive Reader.
• Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting – although no option (that I can see) to change the voice. Still, the voice is ‘okayish’.• Spacing—a range of spacing options to help declutter pages. • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.• Parts of Speech —Supports writing instruction and grammar comprehension by identifying verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Immersive Reader also has options to change the page colour, font size, style etc. ”

For those using Outlook on the web, Immersive Reader will also provide text to speech support 

Thanks to Craig Mill who has kindly added this strategy to our list of text to speech ideas and has a CALL Scotland blog with yet more ideas.

Microsoft OneNote web clipper for capturing data

I really like OneNote as I can dump all my research into different sections and pages, grabbing things from the web. I can share them with colleagues which has been made easier now that OneNote can be used both off and online and there is a Chrome extension called web clipper.  You need to have a Microsoft account and download the extension. The icon sits at the top of the browser and when there is something you want to keep for reading later you can choose to have the complete page or sections etc.  OneNote has always been good at automatically capturing where the clip comes from with a URL  but this method allows you to add to the information.

onenote web clipper

 

Update Facebook and more when using Siri on the iPhone /iPad

Siri spellingiPhone Siri is not a new thing in today’s world but most people don’t use it very often. But through this post I want to highlight some of its key features like:

  1. Users can update Facebook status without even using their device. Just by using Siri.
  2. Siri is an inbuilt calculator that works smoothly just by virtual commands – tell Siri to add any set of numbers and they will be read out. Tap to edit
  3. Ask for a spelling and you will get the definition as well.
  4. Ask for currency and measurement conversions.
  5. Creat calendar events by saying make an appointment with time and date.
  6. Set up reminders and to do lists

 

Thanks to Bharat Gupta via the Add a new Strategy form. 

Colour filters come to iOS 10

colour tint iOS 10Even though you could have colour filters on the Android and your desktop it has only been possible on the iPhone and iPad since the introduction of iOS 10.  These filters can be useful for dulling the screen, offering different choices of colour overlay for those with colour deficiencies or visual stress.  Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Colour Filters. Turn them on and there is a choice of filters with the names of different colour deficencies such as Protanopia Red/Green filter.  Go to the bottom of the list and there you will find the colour tint that allows you to choose a hue and the intensity to suit your preference.

Use Display Accommodations on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

 

These filters have also been exciting star gazers as they provide a form of night vision according to Dave Mosher from Business Insider UK. 

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.

Free ssOverlay to tint the screen

I use coloured glasses when working with computers but our network has ssOverlay. which I can use if I forget them!   You can select the colour you want from settings arrow and activate the overlay.  It covers the screen completely and can be turned off and on from the bottom right of the taskbar. where a small yellow arrow can be seen.  Right hand mouse and you can exit the program. It is very simple and easy to use.

ssoverlay screenshot
ssOverlay (921Kb download )
“Very similar to Dark Screen, ssOverlay (the ss stands for Scotopic Sensitivity), places a coloured overlay onto the screen. The colour and transparency levels can be adjusted to suit the user.”

Gloucester College student working on StemReader for Maths

Boogie Board Jot for notes

boogie board jot

boogie board jot

The Boogie Board is the equivalent to an electronic Etch a Sketch but instead of turning two horizontal and vertical knobs you are able to use a stylus. I currently use the device to write out a To Do list every day. Other family members use it in the kitchen to write out shopping lists because it has magnets that allow it to attach to the fridge. Furthermore, the Boogie Board allows you to write or draw while the device is switched off. This current model could do with the means to be able to erase sections of the writing/drawing area and Bluetooth connection to allow ‘screen’ captures to be sent to a computer or other mobile device. It also does not guard against unwanted mark making The Boogie Board Sync eWriter allows all of these suggested features except for currently erasing specific areas. There is also a mobile app that allows you to connect with your writing by providing access to your notes, lists, drawings and brainstorms.

Neil – PhD in mobile accessibility and academic etexts

 

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

Swype Keyboard and Dragon on mobile for messages and emails etc.

swype onscreen keyboard“I have been using the Swype Keyboard that comes with Dragon speech or voice recognition for long time on an HTC mobile running Android OS and despite the lack of a personalised voice profile, my accent, and even when used in very noisy locations like public transport or cafes, I have been very impressed by the accuracy.

Swype + Dragon is made by Nuance and uses their voice recognition server in order to convert speech-to-text.  There is a trial version on GooglePlay, but if you want to continue using, it would costs you 59p.

Dragon remote microphone is an app that allows you to use a mobile device as a remote microphone for the full version of Dragon installed on a PC or Mac, but only if the computer and the mobile device are connected on the same Wi-Fi network.

Alternatively the Goggle Keyboard (free) comes with its own speech-to-text, although in my experience it was less accurate when compared to Swype.

Speech-to-text on a portable device like an iOS iPhone/iPad or Android phone or tablet, is quite different than having Dragon NaturallySpeaking or DragonDictate installed on a PC or Mac. The speech or voice recognition process on a portable device requires an Internet connection, since the conversion/processing is made on a remote server, and not on the device itself. So literally, your recorded voice will be sent to the US, get processed in the Nuance server and then sent back to your screen.  There is no specific customisable voice profile on a portable device, that can be used in order to improve your accuracy, nor can specific words  be added to the Vocabulary. For example every time I say ‘Enrico’, Dragon on my mobile transcribes “eriko” and there is no way for me to make a correction. Also Dragon installed on a proper computer, can learn to recognise very heavy accents, the same is not true for the cloud-based services.

Look out for Dragon Anywhere an app for Android and soon iOS.

Enrico Riva