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Reading image-based PDFs on iPhone (Visually-impaired)

Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
A student of ours has a multi-page document in PDF format which she would like to read on an iPhone. The document, unfortunately, is a scanned image, which means that editable/readable text can't be detected in the usual way using VoiceOver.

I've played around with Seeing AI, which has a Photo Browser mode that uses OCR to detect text in an image, but there are a few issues: it only reads a single page at a time; she'd need to take a screenshot of each individual page of the PDF to get them into the image gallery; and the text picked up by Seeing AI is not browse-able, meaning the entire page needs to be repeated if something is missed.

Do you know of any app or even a built-in accessibility function that can use OCR on a PDF? I always have a feeling I'm missing something simple with PDFs and taking the long way round :smile:




Replies

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 7,727 Scope community team
    Hi @Andrew_S, when I was doing my degree I had exactly the same problem! With psychology journals dating back many years, they mainly were images.

    Here is how to make existing PDF's accessible. However, it unfortunately does not work with every PDF as this depends on the quality of the text.

    I am tagging @Ryan_Assistive and @Andy_Assistive to see if they have any further suggestions. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope
  • Andy_AssistiveAndy_Assistive Scope adviser Posts: 45 Courageous
    Hi @Andrew_S
    Coming away from the technical solution for a moment, assuming this is a piece provided by the course provider, I'm wondering why the student has been given a fundamentally inaccessible document in the first place as there is a responsibility on the educational establishment to provide accessible materials. Putting the responsibility onto the student to fix the problem is questionable.
    On the solution side Seeing AI has the Document feature that may work more effectively than Photo Browser.
    You could consider using a package on PC to OCR the image then output it in an accessible format.
    On the iPhone KNFB reader may provide a solution as its a reading app its about £70 though so its not cheap but it has a well established track record as a product.
    For larger pieces of work RNIB offer personal transcription services for people with sight loss.
    https://www.rnib.org.uk/services-we-offer-reading-services/transcription-services   
  • Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
    That's fantastic Chloe, thank you! I had no idea Acrobat had OCR functionality built in. It looks like it's only available in the Pro version (£12.99 p/month usually) but fortunately we have access to the Adobe suite as staff.  
  • Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
    Hi Andy, I'm pleased to say it's not a course document as we have a dedicated transcription team here :)  These are documents from the NHS - the student has contacted them to let them know they're not accessible but they don't seem to want to do anything about it.
    We can make these documents accessible for her while she's here at college, but I was looking for something she can use independently. 
    I've heard of KNFB reader but haven't had much experience with it, I'll have a look into it.
    We tried the Document reader mode in Seeing AI but she was struggling with getting the document lined up (though I came across the Giraffe Reader which may help). It also requires the added step of printing the PDF. The holy grail is something that can read using OCR directly from a PDF or directly from the contents of the screen, like Read & Write's screenshot reader, but I can't find anything that's quite there yet so she may need to compromise :)



  • Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
    Just a quick update for anyone that might find this useful. I've been in touch with Claro and apparently Claro PDF for iOS/Android has an OCR function built in that will scan and create text within the PDF accessible to screen readers.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 3,725 Disability Gamechanger
    Andrew_S said:
    Hi Andy, I'm pleased to say it's not a course document as we have a dedicated transcription team here :)  These are documents from the NHS - the student has contacted them to let them know they're not accessible but they don't seem to want to do anything about it.
    We can make these documents accessible for her while she's here at college, but I was looking for something she can use independently. 
    I've heard of KNFB reader but haven't had much experience with it, I'll have a look into it.
    We tried the Document reader mode in Seeing AI but she was struggling with getting the document lined up (though I came across the Giraffe Reader which may help). It also requires the added step of printing the PDF. The holy grail is something that can read using OCR directly from a PDF or directly from the contents of the screen, like Read & Write's screenshot reader, but I can't find anything that's quite there yet so she may need to compromise :)


    Has the student requested that the NHS comply with their needs in line with the NHS AIS?

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

    A breach is potentially an EA 10 breach. Maybe focus their minds on that and see whether they maintain their position. My experience has been that they very much don’t.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 7,727 Scope community team
    Andrew_S said:
    Just a quick update for anyone that might find this useful. I've been in touch with Claro and apparently Claro PDF for iOS/Android has an OCR function built in that will scan and create text within the PDF accessible to screen readers.
    Thank you for sharing this @Andrew_S! Please do let us know how it goes. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope
  • Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
    Has the student requested that the NHS comply with their needs in line with the NHS AIS?

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

    A breach is potentially an EA 10 breach. Maybe focus their minds on that and see whether they maintain their position. My experience has been that they very much don’t.

    Thanks Mike,

    I did mention the accessibility standard to her, I'm not sure if she's taken it any further in the meantime. I'll mention it again and let her advisor here at college know. 
  • Andrew_SAndrew_S Member Posts: 9 Listener
    Andrew_S said:
    Just a quick update for anyone that might find this useful. I've been in touch with Claro and apparently Claro PDF for iOS/Android has an OCR function built in that will scan and create text within the PDF accessible to screen readers.
    Thank you for sharing this @Andrew_S! Please do let us know how it goes. :)

    I've tested it and it works perfectly, overlays the PDF with text readable with VoiceOver. Each OCR page scan uses a credit; you get 50 credits with the free trial, 5000 with the paid version (£9.99) and the limit resets a few times a year.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 7,727 Scope community team
    Thanks for this @Andrew_S! I will definitely have to check it out. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope
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