There are many OCR options available on the market. They come in all shapes and sizes, hardware and software configurations, variety of features and prices. In the end, they all provide electronic text that can be access with through built-in TTS or a screen reader or customized for visual access. With OCR now available for free through Google Docs, web-based services like www.robobraille.orgg and free, or very low-cost Apps for iOS and Android devices why would you pay even $299 for an OCR software package, let along $999 – $4,000?
Aside from the obvious, everyone’s needs, desires, preferences etc. are different the answer, in my opinion, lies in the flexibility and ease of use of the paid programs. Though, I too struggle with paying $999 for software that has a free alternative. I find DocuScanPlus to be that solid middle ground in price, ease of use, flexibility and quality.
iOS, Android and Google Docs Web App are making it easier than ever to perform OCR, and access previously blank pieces of paper, anywhere. That is of course if you like spending time making sure that the lighting, distance from the paper, and coping with all of the other factors that go into taking a picture with a mobile camera, or are a Google Web Apps master, and have screen reader access on every computer you might possibly interact with.
And, if you want to access that text on any of your other devices or formats, well, I hope you like jumping through hoops. DocuScanPlus price tag still makes a few people cringe, $299. However, the easy to use interface, cloud storage built-in TTS option, and multi-platform capabilities certainly make it an appealing, flexible, accessible and more affordable, option than some other programs or hardware combinations.
It is not possible to stress the ease of use of DocuScanPlus enough! The software is simple to install, recognises the image capture hardware/software attached to/installed on the computer automatically, and there are no complex menus to navigate, you don’t have to memorize keystrokes to make it easier to perform actions, and the language used to convey the meaning of different buttons is clear and easy to understand.
There are only five (5) options when you first launch the program: Scan a Document Read a file on this computer Manage files Download from Bookshare Send Feedback How much easier does it get?
The one thing I do find to be a bit cumbersome is saving the scanned document in a different format for use on other devices. This would intuitively be something you could do, like saving, after scanning a file, however the options are only available once the document has been saved to the DocuScanPlus Cloud and you open the document again using the file management tools. Compared to the process of scanning? uploading to Drive > converting > converting to .doc, .txt or .rtf format > downloading from Drive > moving to portable device, that is involved in performing OCR using Google Drive however, this process, and the variety of formats available in DocuScanPlus puts it a bit ahead of that free competition in my opinion. You can save documents in the following formats in DocuScanPlus MP3 Structured DAISY Braille Text Large Print text
In tests the recognition process accurately recognizes and formats links, e-mail addresses, and often recognizes heading structure/formatting correctly. In 9 out of 10 scanning tests the heading structure of a pdf I had previously saved on my computer was recognized correctly. In all 10 of my scanning tests the recognition errors were never so significant for me, as to impact my comprehension of the material scanned. Was it perfect, no, but it was close enough that I could get the idea, and if I wanted I could confidently edit the errors out, without sighted assistance to compare the printed copy to the newly created electronic copy.
There are a few things I’d like to see added to the newest release of DocuScanPlus, and I’ll be taking full advantage of that send feedback button, but all-in-all I’d say that Matt has done it again, created an intuitive, easy to use product, that allows users to get the job done with as little hassle as possible!
Update: June 16
I knew when I posted my initial thoughts that changes would be made, as DSP V3 is in a testing phase. In fact just a short 7 days after writing the first
draft changes were made, and if the fact that in that 7 days the placement of buttons for saving, or converting, scanned documents into different formats,
were created and implemented in more intuitive locations, doesn’t speak to the developers commitment to the product, and making it as easy as possible
for the end user I don’t know what will.
In addition to more intuitive placement of these types of controls I also found that downloading content from bookshare is an easy and intuitive process.
I hope to have time to write a bit more soon!
If you haven’t tried DSP yet I’d encourage you to do so, and keep in mind that feedback really is taken into consideration!