Do you need help reading mail, package info, handouts, cooking directions, price tags, signs? There’s an app for all that. The KNFB Reader converts text to speech, instantly.
It is worth noting: this is technology with a pedigree. Developed by Ray Kurzweil, currently Director of Engineering at Google, he is the father of OCR (Optical Character Recognition). In its original form, it took shape as the Kurzweil Reading Machine for the blind. The year was 1976, the machine was the size of a dishwasher and the cost: $40,000.
In 2008, Kurzweil and the National Federation of the Blind joined forces to introduce the first mobile version of the reading machine. It ran on a Nokia phone and was priced at a shocking: $3,000.
Just a few years later, the much anticipated KNFB Reader App for iPhone (and iPad) was delivered to the App Store. The Android and Windows apps followed, and they’re all compatible with their respective screen readers.
The KNFB Reader app opens the camera. The right side of the screen offers a “field of view report” to assist alignment of the picture. Tap the left side of the screen to snap the photo. In seconds, the text appears and the reading aloud begins. It’s fast, accurate and relatively easy to use.
The app includes a quick start guide and manual. Read and save multi-page documents. Multiple languages are supported. Set to automatically save files to Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive. In recent updates, you can make calls, send emails, and open links directly from documents. You can even contact someone from a business card.
This is relatively easy to use, but like all new things, it may require a bit of acclimating. Practice makes perfect! The incredible benefit is well worth the effort.
You just might start wondering how you functioned without it.
Originally published on July 5, 2017 and updated on August 3, 2018.
About the Author
Dorrie Rush is a Visual Accessibility Expert and progressive proponent for Universal Access and Inclusive Design. She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.