It seems that the number of free apps that can help a visually impaired person with Optical Character Recognition on their smart phone keeps growing and growing. Some of them are specifically designed to help the visually impaired and some are just well coded and can be used by the blind with little or no difficulty.
Adobe is providing one such app that is designed to turn scanned items into PDF files with the ability to save to iCloud, Dropbox and much more. The app is available on both the Apple app store and the Google Play store. You can visit the following link to read the full Adobe Scan Announcement.
When it comes to accessibility, Adobe hasn’t had a good history with screenreaders. So, I decided to download this app on my iPhone 6S and see how well it worked.
Setting up the app is easy and all the form fields to set up a user name and password are very accessible. However, I believe this is more due to the accessibility of iOS and not the app itself. Once the app is installed and you have allowed it to access your phone’s camera the fun begins.
The app can scan images automatically or be manually scanned by tapping a button that is not labeled by default. Once scanned, the app will take a few seconds to recognize any text on the item that has been scanned. Obviously, this may take a few seconds or couple of minutes as it is uploading the image to be recognized. By default scanned items are titled with the word “scanned” and the date on which it was saved. At this point, you can send the file to Dropbox, Kindle, or various other cloud storage options to be read with voiceover.
It is at this point that I thought Adobe did an incredible job. Granted, the experience was a bit lengthy and clunky due to some unlabled buttons. But, the results are very satisfactory. I scanned this year’s tax returns, some adverts I received in the mail and an old faded print of a menu with great results. So, despite the troubles to scan and recognize an image, the amount of text that was recognized was amazing.
Ultimately, is Adobe Scan a viable option for the visually impaired to help read mail and other such items? In my opinion the app can use some work to make it more efficient with a screenreader. Buttons can and should be labled by default. Additionally, the ability to read the text within the app should be available without having to send it to a cloud storage service to be read. However, if you are trying to scan something that you must have later on your PC, Mac or in PDF format then this is definitely a great option. The final result will definitely help you recognize whatever item you are scanning. Despite the minor accessibility difficulties with unlabled buttons, this app can be very beneficial to the visually impaired and help provide a little more independence.