Accessing print when magnification doesn't help

Print scanners

Brandon scanning a textbookTechnology such as a scanner and JAWs software has helped Brandon to pursue his social science degree. Print scanners use a scanner (similar to a photocopier), on which you place the material to be read. The scanner then transfers the document you have scanned to the print scanning software (also known as Optical Character Recognition or OCR software).

This software then translates the scanned information into text. A voice synthesizer (or screen reader) then reads out the text provided. Print scanners are available as a system which plugs into a computer, or as a stand alone reading machine.

Print scanners are not able to read handwriting. They also have trouble with newspapers, graphics, photographs, maps, multi-coloured brochures or poor quality faxes or photocopies. They are however, very useful for novels, newsletters, bills and bank statements or other documents.

It is also possible for a person to use a standard Windows based print scanning software with an appropriate Windows screen reader, screen magnifier, or braille display. This option is often cheaper but may not be suitable for everyone.

Before purchasing a print scanning system, try using it with some of the print material you wish to access to make sure that it can be read. Demonstration versions of print scanning software can be downloaded from the Internet.

For more information, pop into your local Vision Australia centre or call us on 1300 84 74 66.


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