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Blind People Reading Print They Can’t See? There’s an App for That!

I am a legally blind individual with an eye condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome and have difficulty reading printed materials. Typically, I read using electronic magnifiers such as a Close Circuit TV or Freedom Scientific’s Ruby magnifier. But, these have downsides. A CCTV, especially a desktop version, is not portable, and the Ruby, though it’s portable, is generally for quick reading and it is just one more item for the user to carry with them.

Now, thanks to the advances of mobile technology, there is another way! The National Federation of the Blind has made the dream of reading print for blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled individuals into a reality with the KNFB Reader, a fast, accurate, and easy to use app for an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The KNFB Reader mobile app reads print aloud and can be used to read just about any printed material accurately and almost instantly.

It’s so easy. You simply take a photo of the words with your mobile device, and the app reads these aloud with high quality text-to-speech through optical character recognition (OCR). The KNFB Reader has tilt guidance and a field of view report to tell you if you are getting the right photo. It doesn’t matter if you can see that you have the whole page in range or even if it happens to be upside-down. Talk about the miracles of technology!

The KNFB Reader app is really a great tool. I have used it to read my pay stubs and the printed mailing addresses on envelopes. KNFB Reader reads the text flawlessly. I first use the field of view report to make sure I have as much of the document captured as possible, then take a picture. You can also use the tilt guidance feature to make sure the camera is level with the document. If you are scanning a lot of documents, I recommend purchasing a stand to rest the phone or tablet on. The National Federation of the Blind’s Independence Market sells one for $12. We all have smartphones with us all the time these days, so this app gives you the ability to independently read printed material wherever you are, which is very convenient!

The KNFB Reader can be used to read bills, class handouts, PowerPoint presentations, business cards, song listings on CD cases, books, and so much more. The original device, which was invented in the 1970s by Ray Kurzweil, was the size of a kitchen freezer and it was not portable! Now it is portable and can be downloaded onto any device.

The KNFB Reader is available for Apple and Android devices for varying prices. You can visit the Apple AppStore or the Google PlayStore to find current pricing. The manual for KNFB is posted on the home page of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, www.nfbnj.org, and the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, www.nfbofillinois.org. The manual is also available within the app itself. Step-by-step instruction videos can be viewed at www.knfbreader.com. If you have any questions regarding KNFB, please direct them to the KNFB Reader Liaison for New Jersey, Rick Fox, at 973-743-6107 or richardfox1@comcast.net.

You can live the life you want with KNFB Reader!

Some of the above material originated from www.nfb.org/knfbreader.

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