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Apps to Convert Printed Text to Digital Format - Which One is Best?

by Craig Mill

on Thu Mar 31, 2022

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A question we often get asked at CALL is about converting paper or printed worksheets to digital format that can be read aloud using text-to-speech by a device such as an iPad or Android.

Digital readable formats can be helpful to learners who have literacy difficulties, who are print disabled due to sight loss or have difficulties holding books etc due to poor fine motor skills. 

What is available?

Is it possible to take a photo or scan a worksheet or printed materials and convert them into readable or accessible text?

Yes it is, and there are different options or apps including built-in tools to choose from.

In the video below I demonstrate 5 different (apps) ways or methods to convert printed or image text to a readable format;

  • The free  Seeing AI app designed for visually impaired users
  • Claro ScanPen for learners with reading, dyslexia type difficulties
  • Microsoft Lens, again a good option for learners with reading difficulties
  • The image scan feature in OneNote where you can convert a text image to editable or readable text
  • The Photos app which comes with the iPad.

This short video explores five apps which convert printed txt to a more accessible format (view the embedded video at the end of this article).

Seeing AI

To use the Seeing AI app it is just a case of hovering the iPad or iPhone over the worksheet and it reads it aloud. A disadvantage of Seeing AI is the choice of voices, they are limited and lack a natural sound.

However, Seeing AI has many benefits including recognising currency, objects and hand writing.

Claro ScanPen

The thing I like about the Claro ScanPen app is its simplicity, you take a photo of the printed text and it’s just a case of touching or selecting the text you want read aloud.

Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens is a free app which has some great features such as exporting the scanned image to Word via Office 365 so it become editable text and/or you can use the built-in Immersive Reader.


Another free app, Microsoft OneNote, is great for organising folders and files but OneNote also has an option to convert an image text into editable text. 


The scan to text feature in the iPad and iPhone Photos app only works on recent iPads and requires iOS 15 but it’s quick and easy to use.

The video below provides a short introduction to the apps and how they can be used.

Download the text transcript in PDF format

If you require captions turn on Live Captions in the Chrome browser - find out more here.


Tags: apps, scanning, ipad, reading, dyslexia

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