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Scanning in Text using TextHelp Read & Write Gold

People with reading difficulties due to specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, or visual impairment, are likely to benefit from the ability to scan in printed text to be presented in a more accessible format. Depending on the software used to make the scan, the computer can read letters, books, handouts and will even attempt magazines and listings. Once the scan has been made, which typically takes under a minute, the computer can convert the text into a format that you find more accessible.

For example the computer can present the text in a colour scheme, font style, font size and so on in a manner in which you can comfortably read it. Alternatively you could print it out according to your individual preferences - completing a full conversion of a document from paper to paper. Many users may prefer to hear the text read aloud using synthesized speech.

In order to get the most benefit from your OCR software I strongly recommend that you read up on how it works, especially regarding the retaining of page layouts. I have some straightforward guides on my dedicated OCR pages.

Performing a Scan

A Scanner

Start the procedure by placing the text on the scanner bed. The paper can go go either way up but obviously the text you want to read needs to face the glass.

Scan button on the Read and Write toolbar

Now begin scanning by clicking on the Scan tool on the Read & Write toolbar. If you are unable to find this tool then you might own Read & Write and not Read & Write Gold. Only the Gold version contains the scanning feature.

Scanner in progress window

Following this the scanner should kick into life and the 'OCR Operating in progress' Window should pop up to give you an idea of what's going on.

After a short while the program will prompt you to add another page (if you have enabled this option, above). When you have finished scanning all your pages the document will appear in either your PDF viewer (Adobe Reader) or in Microsoft Word, depending on which output format you choose to scan to.

Setting up TextHelp Read and Write for Scanning

TextHelp Read and Write is designed to be configured for a wide variety of users. Therefore before you start using any feature you should look through the options and tweak it for your own needs.

Scanning options toolbar menu

The small black triangles that juxtaposition most of the icons on the Read & Write toolbar give access to many options.

Click on the small black triangle next to the scan icon and a short menu should pop up.

We can see we have three possible output destinations. You may want to scan to Microsoft Word or to PDF format. Which format you choose depends on how much of the original layout you wish to retain and what you want to do with the text one you have scanned it in. I recommend you read my separate article about scanning to PDF and Word.

Select Scanning Options to view all Read and Write's options for scanning.

Scanning Options screenshot

Image Resolution

I recommend that for accuracy you set this to 300dpi. Otherwise the software may struggle to differentiate between an "1" and an "I". If your scanning is really very slow then you may have to change this to 150dpi.

Multipage settings

If you select Multiple Page (with Prompt) then Read & Write will ask you after every scanned page whether you'd like to add another page. This is particularly useful because otherwise you will have to have a separate Word document or PDF file for each scanned page.

Hide your scanner's configuration dialogs

If you untick this box then every time you scan you be prompted to select an area of the scanner to cover. This allows you to remove unnecessary parts of the scan such as the shadows and blank areas that can appear in PDF files.

Click on the Output Settings tab.

Scanning Options screenshot

Autoscan File Location

The default settings of TextHelp Read and Write 'assume' that you want to use the scanning feature to display a page on the screen and then immediately discard it. If you want to actually keep some of the pages you scan for later viewing then you're going to have to change this option preferably to Ask for a filename every time, or at least if you're rather lazy to Choose a location to save to.

If you've scanned in a load of pages without changing this option then these documents should be in your temporary folder (unless Windows has already purged its temporary files). Follow my separate guide to see if you can retrieve your lost Read and Write scans.

Output Format Settings

By now you should understand the implications of scanning on layout and how to choose whether to scan to PDF or to Word format. TextHelp Read & Write gives you a limited degree of options that affect the final output:

  • PDF

  • Fully Formatted PDF document (with fonts)
  • Image on top of text (no fonts)

For an accurate layout of your original document but with text-to-speech ensure that you select Image on top of text.

  • Word

  • Retain full formatting with graphics

If you enable this option then Read and Write will attempt to retain layout accuracy as best it can. This could involve using Textboxes which can have a serious impact on your ability to change font sizes and spacing. If you disable this option then you'll just get plain text with absolutely no formatting or positioning. This can make the text visually difficult to read. What we need is something inbetween these two extremes but that option is only available if you use OmniPage for your scanning instead of TextHelp Read and Write.

Microsoft Word Icon

Microsoft Word

Converting text to be read on-screen or printed

You can use Microsoft Word to convert your text into a visual format that you find more accessible.

Reading text aloud

In addition to or as an alternative to converting your text so that it's more comfortable to read TextHelp Read & Write can read the text aloud using a voice that can be altered to suit your own preferences.

Adobe Reader Icon

Adobe Reader

Viewing text in Adobe Reader and using text-to-speech

If you output to Adobe Reader then you can't adjust your font styles or spacing but you can use the zoom tool and Adobe's text-to-speech feature.

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