Empish’s Take on Using the KNFB Reader App
Although the KNFB Reader App for the iPhone has been on the market since 2014, I just recently started using it. As I have been slowly migrating my life onto my iPhone, this app was one I had yet to try. I typically scan all printed materials, especially my mail, using my desktop computer with a flatbed scanner and software called Open Book. But I had been hearing such great things about the KNFB Reader app, launched by the National Federation of the Blind, that I had to try it out. Because the app is on my phone, I can easily carry it around in my purse. Now I can scan printed materials on the go. My thought was that I wouldn’t have to wait until I got to my desktop computer to scan documents or ask a sighted person to read them for me while out and about. The KNFB Reader has created a whole level of independence and freedom in my life that I am greatly enjoying.
So, if you are a late bloomer like me, here are a couple of features about the app that I really like. Perhaps these features will encourage you to investigate the app yourself, so you can carry it around in your purse or pocket too. Additionally, the app is available for the android phone and was just recently launched for Windows 10.
Features on the KNFB Reader App
I have been using a scanner for several years as a visually impaired person, so I was very impressed with the level of accuracy with the KNFB Reader. The first time I tried reading a letter from the mail, it was very accurate. The KNFB Reader has a very cool feature called the “Field of View Report.” When you click on this button, you will get feedback as to how close you are to the object you are trying to scan before actually taking the picture. I have found it very helpful in getting the camera right in the place I need it to be for the best results. After taking the picture, my phone began to read the letter to me, and the letter was also on the screen. I literally got the same feedback as I would have using my scanner and desktop computer. I even tried reading some mail on that shiny glossy-type paper, and the KNFB reader did a good job too. This type of paper is usually hard to read, and I have to get a sighted person to help.
If you don’t want to use the “Field of View Report,” another option is the Tilt Guide setting. This setting will cause your phone to vibrate if the camera is not directly over top of the printed document. I found this feature to be very creative as I felt my phone vibrate when I tried to get it exactly in the right spot. You can turn this setting on and off. The phone will vibrate when the camera is not level to a desk or table. Rapid vibrations mean more tilt is needed to the right or left or front or back. Slower vibrations mean less tilt is needed. No vibrations indicate your phone is ready to scan the document.
I found that the KNFB reader does a good job on documents like utility or credit card bills with multiple columns. This feature is found in the “Document Type Section.” The default is on multiple columns, but you can easily change it to single column when needed.
If you are a Dropbox user, the KNFB Reader can be linked to your account. Simply turn this option on, and your scanned materials will be connected to your Dropbox in a KNFB folder for storage. This folder is automatically created, and files are saved. The files will also be saved even if you delete them from your iPhone.
The KNFB Reader offers bulk or batch scanning. This is ideal if you are scanning books or magazines where you have several pages you can scan at a time. Just tap on the batch mode button to turn it on and then start scanning. Additionally, this feature might work best with a camera stand, so that you don’t have to hold your iPhone steady for each page that you have to scan. There is an option for that within the app called the “Stand Picture Mode.” It is located under the select profile button. You can see a demonstration of this on a YouTube video from Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In the video, the instructor is explaining how the KNFB Reader works and uses a camera stand in the process.
The last feature that I really like about the KNFB Reader is the ability to get support and help if you need it. During the first couple of times I tried to use the app, I got a little stuck. I was able to call the National Federation of the Blind. On their phone line, they have a prompt specifically set up for the KNFB Reader. I was able to speak directly to a representative who answered my questions. There is also a manual on the app and on the website that I was able to easily access and use. Additionally, they have a list group of fellow KNFB Reader users that you can subscribe to. You don’t have to feel alone if you need help as there are a couple of places to go for assistance.
Use the following information to contact a KNFB Reader representative:
List Group: users_nfbnet.org
Or send an email to email@example.com and put the word “subscribe” in the subject field.
I have shared just a few of the available features. I am still making my way through the app, but so far, the experience has been a pleasant one. I will still keep my flatbed scanner and software that I use at home, but I am excited that now I have the ability to carry a scanner in my purse and access printed materials on the go.