Can the C-Pen Reader Help the Visually Impaired?

I recently had the opportunity to test-drive a C-Pen Reader. For those who have never heard of the C-Pen, it’s a portable device designed to assist persons with reading and language-related learning barriers to access print material in an audio format.

It looks a little like a highlighter pen and the basic idea is that when you run the “nib” of the pen across a line of text it will immediately read it using either the small speaker on the pen itself or headphones.

When I read about the C-Pen Reader I wondered if I could use it to access print materials as someone who is blind, although it’s generally not marketed for this purpose. So that’s what I set out to discover…

I found the C-Pen Reader fairly easy to use. While I couldn’t run the pen across the page very fast, I didn’t find the optimal speed uncomfortably slow. I didn’t have to wait too long for the audio feedback, and I felt the speech quality and accuracy was fairly good.

Personally I found it hard to keep a straight line across the page and to move from one line to the next with any degree of accuracy. I’m sure there are any number of ways to resolve both these problems and I’d find a way to do this if using the C-Pen Reader on a regular basis.

While switching the C-Pen on and off was simple, I couldn’t find a way to get audio access to the menu system so would only be able to use the full features of the C-Pen Reader with sighted help or by remembering the patterns to access each function.

My husband, who is sighted, noted that the C-Pen is designed for people who are right-handed. He said while he would be able to use the device as a left-handed person, that it was not entirely comfortable to do so.

My conclusion was that, while the C-Pen Reader is undoubtedly a useful tool for it’s stated purpose of assisting individuals encountering reading and language barriers, there are easier ways for me to access print materials as a totally blind person. I think the device might be useful for an individual who have sufficient sight to make out the location of the printed words, but for whom the audio would be a benefit.

Overall I feel the C-Pen Reader is an interesting little device that I urge you to investigate if you feel it might be of use to you.

With thanks to Edit Microsystems for letting me test-drive the C-Pen Reader – find out about their products on www.editmicro.co.za

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for testing the C-PEN ReaderPen Lois. We appreciate the challenge being totally blind, but we hope it to be helpful for those with sufficient sight to make out the location of the text rows.

    A few comments from us, the manufacturer…
    1. We are in the process releasing audio supported user interface later this year for the ReaderPen sibbling – ExamReader. Keep an eye on our Youtube channel (youtube.cpen.com).
    2. Both ReaderPen and ExamReader do support left handed use. This is changed in Main Menu Settings.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Peter – great to hear about the ExamReader and the existing left-handed support for the C-Pen Reader. I enjoyed the convenience of the C-Pen as well as its portability. I’m sure it is a great tool for many people!

  2. Hi there, I have a 10 year old don with a progressive visual impairment and he finds comprehensions very daunting and time consuming. He is also left with bad eye fatigue. We would love to try this to see if it would benefit him. Is there any way that we could trial this to see if it helps? Many thanks

  3. Hi Alison
    Thanks for your message. More info is at: http://www.scanningpens.com

    Feel free to email me and I can advise further: [email protected]

    Thanks

    best wishes

    Jack

  4. I am most grateful for your testing and honest review of this pen reader. I have been scouring the WEB in search for information on any c-pen used exclusively as a text to speech device.
    My mother had 2 strokes and suffers from diabetes. The diabetes causing her to lose a great deal of her vision even after injections. She is not learned on newer age technology and is not interested in learning. She simply needs something to read out loud text that she currently needs read, like recipes, ingredients, postal mail, newspaper or favorite book. She has no interest in saving the text for later or defining or translating text, just reading back the text she can’t see in her english language. She also speaks German as that is her birth place but most text she runs across would be in english. She wouldn’t do well with an item that has more than a couple buttons, basically on/off switch and maybe volume. She doesn’t even like using a tv remote (though who could blame her). I live a state away and cannot be there to help as much as I’d like. I wanted to get her something simple to operate that could bring her a little sense of self reliance that she use to take pride in, and give her some joy and quality back into her life and being able to do what she loves.

    1. I’m glad you found my article useful. I wish you every success in finding a solution – if I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me through the website

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