Tag Archives: research

Office Lens

Office Lens logoUpdated May 1, 2020 with new Immersive Reader feature.

Mobile scanning apps offer incredible benefits for many types of users.

  • Trying to reduce paper clutter? Take a photo of it and recycle the original paper or return the library book.
  • Trying to be better organized? File your scans in a cloud-based notebook like OneNote so you can easily find them when needed.
  • Using text-to-speech because of dyslexia? Use your phone to snap a shot of that classroom handout and then load it into Voice Dream or another text-to-speech app.

While there are lots of mobile scanning apps out there, Office Lens is free, simple, powerful – and now has text-to-speech built in. Here’s how I used it with my iPad to snap and save a scan of our library’s Interlibrary Loan bookmark

1) Open Office Lens and hold your device to allow the app to frame the shot for you.

Screenshot of Office Lens framing the bookmark

I’m choosing to capture this as a document, as this will (1) cause Office Lens to ignore everything not in the frame and (2) will automatically run optical character recognition (OCR) on the shot to recognize the text. Choosing to capture a whiteboard would be appropriate for taking a shot of the whiteboard after a class. In either case, don’t worry if you are taking your shot at an angle–Office Lens will crop and present it as if you were shooting straight on.

2) Next, what do you want to do with your scan? You can easily export it to a number of Windows apps. Go ahead–put that whiteboard scan into a PowerPoint. Use your scan of a page from a physical book to paste a quote into a Word document. Save a scan of that handout to the course notebook you are keeping in OneNote. Or just email it to a friend.

Screenshot of Office Lens Export options

3) If you want to use text-to-speech to listen to your newly OCRed document, create a PDF and use iOS sharing to open it in Voice Dream.

Screenshot of iOS share Screenshot of Voice Dream reading the bookmark

Or export to OneDrive and open it in Read & Write‘s PDF Aloud on your laptop.

Screenshot of PDF Aloud reading the bookmark

4) If you want to hear text read aloud, use the Immersive Reader feature. Just take a photo of the document that you want read and click “Export to” then “Immersive Reader.” The app will recognize the text and it will read it aloud to you, once you press the Play Button. You can also increase and decrease font size, change word spacing, move forward and backward in the text, and alter the speaking rate.

Immersive Reader function. Shows application highlighting one word at a time as it reads the test aloud

Office Lens is available for iOS and Android.

Read and Write

text-help

We are excited to announce that SUNY Cortland has purchased a site license for Read & Write, a suite of reading, writing, and study tools for PC and Mac. The suite can be installed on any college computer and students may install it on their own computers.

Read & Write opens as a toolbar that hovers over everything else open on your computer or can be locked to the top or side of the screen, as seen below.

Screenshot of Read & Write toolbar locked to the top of a screen.

The toolbar allows the user to access the 30 or so features of the suite. It can be customized to allow users to focus on the handful of features they find most helpful. These features includes the following apps:

  • A text-to-speech app that highlights text while reading it aloud;
  • A scan and read app that allows the user to create searchable PDFs and other documents that can be read aloud;
  • PDF Aloud, an app that opens PDFs and reads them aloud;
  • Screenshot Reader, an app that allows the user to take a screenshot of part or all of the screen and then have it read aloud. This will be handy for students who want to have online homework read aloud and have been stymied by inaccessible Flash-based text.
  • A DAISY reader that allows students to read Bookshare and other DAISY files;
  • Speechmaker, an app that creates mp3 files out of text.
  • Study tools that can be useful for those doing reading and research with electronic documents, including several colors of highlighters and an app that inserts voice notes;
  • Writing tools, including a word predictor and an app that helps the writer sort through homophones and other confusable words;
  • An app that allows the user to graphically¬† organize ideas;
  • And more…

The toolbar includes drop-down menus to customize each app and view video tutorials of each feature, making them relatively easy to learn. That said, we will highlight some of the most useful features of Read & Write in future posts.

You may learn how to obtain a copy of Read and Write for your college-owned computer or your own computer at no charge by contacting Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman. In the future, we hope to publish a link that will allow any member of the SUNY Cortland community to download the software directly.