Here is everything you’ll need to know about buying a reading pen, an assistive technology tool for those with reading difficulties.
Must-knows before you buy a reading pen – Read this first
For those with dyslexia and similar disabilities, reading can be a lifelong struggle. However, several devices use assistive technology that can help. One of the most popular solutions people with reading difficulties have been using is a reading pen, a handheld device that can read or save printed text.
If you’re curious about what a reading pen is, how it works, and if they’re right for you, this article will provide you with enough information to make an informed decision.
What are reading pens?
Reading pens are a piece of assistive technology that can help people with dyslexia or other reading difficulties to have printed words read back to them. Most are about the size of an average highlighter, making them not only easily portable but also somewhat discreet.
The concept is simple. The device scans printed text and reads it back to you in real-time. Some models have additional features, such as providing dictionary definitions for difficult words, but their main function is to assist in overcoming reading difficulties.
How do reading pens work?
Sometimes referred to as a scanning pen, reading pens operate by using OCR (optical character recognition). The user scans the text and the device converts the text to speech, literally reading back the written words.
Some reading pens take things further. These not only scan text and read it back to you, but they can also store the scanned text. It can then be downloaded to a computer as a text file which can then be read aloud by using text to speech tools.
Why use a reading pen?
There are several benefits to using a reading pen, especially for those with dyslexia or other impairments.
Since they’re about the size of a highlighter, reading pens can be taken anywhere. They easily fit into a pocket, purse, or backpack. Portability and their stealthy appearance make them easy to take with you anywhere you go. Additionally, since they look more or less like a pen or marker, reading pens are discreet.
While some people with poor reading skills are self-conscious about their plight, a reading pen doesn’t attract unwanted attention. Some even have headphones or earbud attachments, so people who are embarrassed about using them in public can do so without being judged.
Those with reading disabilities will find that following along while the reading pen converts the text to speech can greatly improve their reading comprehension and general reading skills. Using this type of assistive technology can help to improve confidence by making it easier to read while following along to the written word.
Some top reading pen brands
There are several different reading pens available to those interested in using them to better cope with their reading issues. Most are easily purchased on Amazon or from other online retailers. All use OCR technology to turn physical text into digital text.
The C-Pen Reader is an excellent choice for those with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. It’s small, lightweight, and discreet, so it can be taken just about anywhere. All that’s required is to scan it over printed text and it’ll read the words aloud to you. This pen supports right- and left-handed modes and can scan left-to-right and right-to-left. However, it can still only scan English, French, and Spanish.
A C-Pen can also read and save entire paragraphs for editing or use with other text to speech tools. It comes with a built-in dictionary to assist the user in quickly learning new words.
ScanMarker Air Pen
This scanning pen is great for those who want to save large pieces of printed text for later use. It’s lightweight and easy to use. One of its main selling points is the ability to send scanned text directly to mobile devices like an iPhone, iPad, or Android, where the user can later edit or use other assistive technology like the text to speech tools.
A bit more budget-friendly, the Pen Power scanning pen not only scans text but can also scan barcodes and can extract text from screenshots. Much like similar assistive technology, the Pen Power can scan text that can be uploaded to Mac and Windows PCs. You’ll be able to choose English or another target language and can provide two types of translations: business or typical.
The Connect Pen can be paired with iOS, Windows, and Android devices. Simply drag the reading pen over a line of text and it’ll be instantly displayed on your device. It can be used as a text to speech tool or save text files to use at a later time.
The ScanMarker reading pen connects to your mobile devices or desktop computer. Like the others, all you need to do is drag the text reader across a line of text and it can then be saved on your device. Using OCR technology, the ScanMarker can help to improve anyone’s reading skills.
Speechify – Try a text to speech app for large portions of text
Another tool that can help dyslexics and those with reading difficulties is Speechify. Either used as a standalone tool or with the aid of a reading pen, this text to speech technology reads back printed text.
First-time users will find that it’s easy to use. A perfect tool for young children and adults, you’ll be able to change the narrator’s voice to one that’s most comfortable for you. Speechify can get your child more interested in reading. A fun feature is the ability to change the narration to that of a celebrity, which can further enhance the experience.
What are the most popular reading pens available?
The most popular reading pens available are the C-Pen Reader, the ScanMarker Air Pen, and Connect Pen. However, there are many other digital text readers available.
What are the benefits of using a reading pen?
Reading pens have many benefits. Some use them for note-taking. However, scanning pens are a fantastic tool for those with reading disabilities or dyslexia.
What is the battery life of a reading pen?
The typical battery life for these text readers is usually around 8 hours.