Document Screen Reading allow individuals who are blind or visually impaired to access printed material. Learning disabled individuals can also benefit from reading systems by providing visual and auditory stimulation to retain new information. Optical character recognition systems or OCR, consists of a scanner, a computer to which the scanner is connected and OCR software to turn the scanned image into text that can be read through speech synthesis and/or electronic Braille display.

Document Screen Reading can be distinguished in two categories: stand alone and software based. The stand alone systems are essentially computers with software and a scanner consolidated into a single unit, but the user does not have to know how to operate a computer to use them; all of the controls are menu driven, and one keystroke generally will initiate the entire process of scanning, recognizing and reading a document to the user. The software based systems require more computer knowledge, but add the benefit of being able to edit and print or emboss your scanned document.

Some of the most popular reading systems on the market include Kurzweil 3000 (software based), Freedom Scientific’s WYNN™ (software based) along with the PEARL document camera for portable scanning and reading (pictured below) and Texthelp’s Read & Write Gold. The web sites for these products can give the user price comparisons. There is also freeware software called ReadPlease 2003. Text can be copied from a text or word processing document, pasted into the ReadPlease application and can be read to the user. There is also a ReadPlease Plus version for a fee. Another option is the Text to Read from Premier Assistive Technology, Inc..