C-Pen Reader Scanning Pen Dyslexic.com Review

Scanning pens, such as the C-Pen Reader, are a popular form of assistive technology which help those with literacy difficulties access printed text. They are especially handy for those with dyslexia as they can read aloud text from books, labels and documents. This tackles literacy difficulties surrounding reading that many dyslexic children and adults face on a day to day basis.

There are many scanner pens which are also approved by The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) for use in exams. This means that students with literacy difficulties can independently take their exam knowing that they can read and understand each question. Other portable scanner pens include the Exam Pen Reader from C-PenIRIS Pen and the Wizcom Reading Pens. To find out more about any of these assistive technology products, please visit the Scanning Pens page on Dyslexic.com.

Image of the C-Pen Reader Scanning Pen

How does the C-Pen Reader work?

The C-Pen Reader is the latest scanner pen which was released by C-Pen in November 2015. C-Pen also created the 3.5 Bluetooth Portable Scanning Pen and the TS1 Digital Highlighter Pen. These products have now been discontinued, but the new C-Pen Reader is a great replacement.

It uses impressive optical character recognition (OCR)technology to read aloud printed text. With the integrated Collins 10th Edition English Dictionary, individual words can be highlighted and the definition read aloud. This is particularly helpful for dyslexic children and adults who struggle understanding complex words but prefer to hear words read aloud to them. The C-Pen Reader comes complete with a headphone jack so the handy tool can be made more discrete if you are listening to text in public places.

How does it differ from other scanning pens and digital highlighters on the market?

There are lots of different digital highlighters and scanner pens on the market, so what makes the C-Pen Reader any different? Well, it features a much clearer and more natural text-to-speech voice than most reading pens. This makes it a lot easier to understand the words and hear pronunciations. It is also much more accurate when scanning over a line of text. Some pens that read can struggle when moving at a faster pace; however the C-Pen Reader worked quite well.

The size of the C-Pen Reader scanning pen is fantastic. It is half the size of other reading pens and weighs just 50g. Measuring just 13.5cm long, it can be used by younger children from aged 6+ as well as younger children. Plus, its ergonomic design means that it’s very easy to hold and move along a page of text.

The C-Pen Reader is the first portable line scanner on the market that is both Mac and PC compatible. With no software needed, you simply need to connect the pen to your computer via the USB cable and it will appearas an external hard drive. You can scan pieces of text, store to the pens memory and transfer to your computer. This is an extremely useful feature if you are a university student or researcher. The C-Pen Reader also doubles up as a USB drive with 3GB of data space available.

A feature that is very useful is the Voice memo tool. The reading pen doubles up as a dictaphone and allows you to record audio and voice memos. These files are saved to the device and can be listened to or uploaded to your computer at any time.

How can I buy the C-Pen Reader Scanning Pen?

Simply follow this link to purchase the C-Pen Reader on Dyslexic.com >> http://ian.lt/1SVqn4l

Latest Assistive Technology Products: May 2016

To help you stay up to date with the latest trends surrounding assistive technology, we have compiled the latest and most popular software, hardware and apps to support those with dyslexia and other disabilities. This will form part of a monthly update on the latest assistive technology on the Dyslexic.com blog. Please sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss June’s item >> http://ian.lt/1O2BAv9

The latest assistive technology products from dyslexic.com


The trends surrounding assistive technology in May have moved even closer towards apps for smartphones and tablet devices. New apps that have been released include support for those with dyslexia, dyscalculia,low vision and many more disabilities. Assistive Technology apps have become increasingly popular in the past year and are being used in environments such as schools and in the workplace. Whether they are being used on their own or to accompany a desktop version of software, assistive technology apps are a great tool to support those with disabilities.

This is an image of CapturaTalk Junior

iShould supports individuals with time-management difficulties, such as dyslexia. It offers anew way to organise and manage your activities, allowing you to plan, share and achieve your goals. The app works together with an online system where you can develop ideas and plan activities according to your personal preferences. The iShould app is available on iOS and Android devices.

CapturaTalk Junior is a literacy support app for iOS devices from iansyst and has been designed to assist younger users with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities.The app includes the powerful Optical Character Recognition technology from ABBYY allowing users to take a photograph of printed text and convert this into digital text that can be edited in Word or other text editors. CapturaTalk Junior also contains accessibility features such as text-to-speech technology, coloured overlays and dyslexia friendly fonts.

You can find a wider selection of the latest assistive technology apps to download in our latest Assistive Technology Catalogue or on the Apps category on Dyslexic.com.

Software and Hardware

This is an image of the C-Pen Reader Scanning Pen

The C-Pen Reader is a small, portable and lightweight scanning pen which supports those with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, or those learning English as a second language. The pen can be run across any printed text from books, newspapers, printed labels and more, and be read aloud from a naturally speaking English text-to-speech engine. This allows you to hear the correct pronunciations of words, as well as hear the word definition read aloud. The C-Pen Reader scanning pen is compatible with both PC and Mac, allowing users to transfer scanned text to a text editor.

Clicker 7 is a popular literacy support software which is designed to develop reading and writing skills in users of all ages and abilities. It features a wide range of writing tools including word prediction, realistic speech feedback and a built-in, child-friendly word processor. Clicker 7 is often used in schools as it contains a number of tools for teachers. One useful tool that is used is ‘Word Pool’ where teachers can add in unusual words or names to Clicker’s knowledge base to ensure it is recognised by the software.

The final new addition in the world of assistive technology are the Eye Lighter Reading Rulers which are now available as a 10 pack containing green, purple, orange, pink, blue and yellow reading rulers. The 6” transparent plastic highlighter helps you to maintain focus, concentration and comprehension whilst reading. The design of the Eye Lighter allows you to track 1, 2 or 3 lines at a time whilst also helping you to not lose your place or reread lines.

You can keep up to date with the latest assistive technology products right here on the Dyslexic.com blog. Alternatively, you can view more information from iansyst by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1SsdalA

What’s new in Clicker 7?

Clicker is a popular literacy support software which helps users of all ages and abilities to develop their reading and writing skills. This week, Dyslexic.com released Clicker 7 for sale online and we wanted to let you know what’s new in the latest version!

Using the Clicker Board, students can organise their ideas to help them prepare for writing. This tool allows them to manipulate and link any combination of words, pictures and sounds to get started on their writing. Users can now record voice notes on the software, enabling them to vocally rehearse their sentence before they write. They can hear this read back to them with the new children voices. Sentences and words are read back in a friendly, age appropriate voice that younger students can identify with, encouraging them to actively review and self-correct their work. Clicker 7 also features enhanced word prediction and an even bigger library of over 3500 curriculum pictures.

Clicker 7 supports teachers by making it even easier to customise activities for different ability levels in the classroom. It also gives instant access to the software’s training materials – this helps teachers to get started quickly and become a confident user in no time. With Word Pool, teachers can add in unusual words or names to Clicker’s knowledge base to ensure it is pronounced properly, suggested by the predictor and accepted by the spellchecker.

Clicker 7 offers more access support than ever before to enable every student to access the curriculum and achieve success. In the latest version, the software offers eye gaze support and SuperKeys – the unique access method for learners who need bigger target areas.

Clicker 7 is available to purchase from Dyslexic.com by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1ZbHKox

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Text-to-Speech Software

Text-to-speech enables your computer to read aloud web pages, text documents, emails and PDF documents in a natural sounding voice. Some software now includes additional tools such as spell checkers, homophone support and visual highlighting that can help when producing your own written work.

Those with dyslexia often find that text-to-speech software provides significant support if they struggle with reading or digesting text on the computer screen. Hearing text being read aloud in a natural sounding voice also helps dyslexic people proof-read their own written work. For some people it is much easier to hear the mistakes than see them.

Most importantly, text-to-speech software can offer those with dyslexia a high degree of independence when it comes to reading and writing.

What software is available?

There are different types of text-to-speech software available, all of which can be purchased from Dyslexic.com.

ClaroRead is a simple toolbar that sits at the top of the computer screen and will read aloud any on-screen text in Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, emails and many other applications. It contains visual highlighting to help users follow the text as it is read aloud, word prediction feature, homophone checker, coloured overlays and much more. It is available to purchase as a box copy or digital download (instant product sent via email), and for Windows and Mac. Find out more about ClaroRead by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1MTZiMy

Read&Write is an easy-to-use toolbar that provides speech feedback, phonetic spell checking and many other literacy support tools to help with reading and writing. It also contains written and picture dictionaries to help understand the meanings of tricky words and homophones, translation tool, screen masking and word prediction feature. It is available to purchase as a digital download or as a USB, and for Windows and Mac. Find out more about Read&Write by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1L1AWOe

Kurzweil 3000 is a powerful text-to-speech and literacy support tool that enables users to convert printed text documents into accessible electronic formats. This can then be read aloud by a natural sounding voice. It comes with dual highlighting (highlights a sentence, line or phrase in one colour, and each word in another colour to help improve reading performance), translation feature, word prediction and much more. It is available to purchase as a box copy for Windows and Mac. Find out more about Kurzweil 3000 >> http://ian.lt/1L1HUTe

Penfriend gives dyslexic users the confidence to write more, the accuracy to write what they mean, and the speed to write more in the time available. It contains text-to-speech functionality to read aloud words on the screen, including words that haven’t been typed yet. It also features word prediction, using a dictionary of known words, to help the user with writing. Penfriend XL adds additional functionality in native languages. It is available as a box copy for Windows. Find out more about Penfriend by following this link >> http://ian.lt/1hli83P

CapturaTalk Junior launched on the App Store

capturatalk-junior-app-icon-itunesartwork-2xiansyst are excited to announce the launch of CapturaTalk Junior, an app designed for students who require literacy support through KS1-KS4. The app is available to download on the App Store for iOS devices.

CapturaTalk Junior helps students with reading printed text and integrates the powerful ABBYY OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature. Students are able to take a picture of text and convert it to digital text, ready to have it read aloud and then the option to edit it further. For example, the app includes its own integrated text editor with text-to-speech, assisting students with the sound of letters and words and supporting reading and comprehension. Other features include custom ‘phrase banks’ for students to create and store words and sentences, an integrated dictionary with homophone support and a range of user interface options including screen tint overlays, the ability to easy change the size of font and to choose a dyslexia friendly font.

Download CapturaTalk Junior on the App Store today.

Kent College Dyslexia Department use MindGenius to Support Students with Course Work and Literacy

Kent College in Tonbridge, Kent installed a MindGenius site licence in September 2004 which gave access to their 2,300 full-time and 12,000 part-time students on all of their 1,500+ PCs and laptops.

Former dyslexia tutor Chris Sellers, herself a dyslexic, persuaded the college to purchase a site licence after researching suitable electronic mind mapping software solutions.

MindGenius is used across campus by students, tutors and lecturers and the Dyslexia Department are applying MindGenius to support students with dyslexia for course work, literacy and developing strategies to cope with specific dyslexic difficulties.


Nicky Williams, is a Tutor in the Dyslexia Department and uses MindGenius on a one-to-one level with her students. She delivers courses on dyslexia with maths being her speciality. She herself has dyslexia and says she is “evangelical” about MindGenius. Nicky’s students have really bought into the software:

“It can be hard for some students with dyslexia to start using something different like MindGenius because it takes a lot of energy to change their developed learning patterns. However, the more the software is used the more opportunities can be discovered. ”

Nicky believes that MindGenius is dyslexia friendly – everyone can disseminate information and the act of building a map is a very positive experience.

Students use it to classify information, sort out what to include in essays and presentations, explain thought patterns, organisation, sequencing, forming a logical argument, and grouping facts.

Although it can be difficult at first for some, if they can talk about building their map this can help to internalise the main structure of what they’re trying to do and they can take ownership of their ideas.

MindGenius is ideal for those with dyslexia as it means they can go back to the map, change their mind and easily move misplaced branches and check their spelling. Nicky had tried hand-drawn mind mapping techniques previously but students would become frustrated when mistakes were made, or more information had to be added and the map had to be re-created from scratch.

Another feature that is commonly used by students in the Dyslexia department, and across campus, is the export to PowerPoint. The trigger words created in the map for the presentation help to reinforce learning of the relevant facts. She shows her students how it works – then “presses the button” for the export to PowerPoint and watches their reaction! This simplifies the process of creating presentations and helps the students to focus on the content of the presentation before they move on to making it visually attractive.

Nicky herself now uses MindGenius for everything from brainstorming to planning and revision. She has also used it to develop ideas for a conference, planning potentially difficult situations, developing coherent arguments, planning student essays and lesson plans.

Nicky believes MindGenius is an excellent tool for developing lesson plans as she tends to include too much into them. Working with MindGenius allows her to get a picture in her mind of all her thoughts then ‘dump’ them into a map, where they can be refined, sorted and organised. Once the map has been developed, Nicky is able to achieve a clearer picture of how tasks will fit into the allotted time.

MindGenius can be purchased on Dyslexic.com as a Digital Download for PC. Follow this link >> http://ian.lt/16Fea1t

Reading Harry Potter used to study brain

177389984Fiction reading can have a significant impact on the brain.

According to new research, reading fiction books such as Harry Potter can point to how the brain processes language, grammar and meaning.

Computer scientists and neurologists from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Queen’s University in Belfast and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore set out to gain a clearer understanding of the role of the different brain regions that are activated in response to reading.

Led by CMU’s Machine Learning Department, the researchers conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on the brains of eight people who were each reading chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – which detailed Harry’s first flying lesson.

The brain scans were then analysed by each cubic millimetre in order to detect each four-word segment in the chapter, from which the first ever integrated computational model of reading was created.

Using this model, the researchers compared the fMRI activity of the participants’ brains to various passages from the book, so that they could determine which sections were being read. This produced 74 per cent accuracy in tracking brain activity while reading.

Leila Wehbe, a PhD student at CMU, said: “It turns out that movement of the characters – such as when they are flying their brooms – is associated with activation in the same brain region that we use to perceive other people’s motion.

“Similarly, the characters in the story are associated with activation in the same brain region we use to process other people’s intentions.”

The research, entitled Simultaneously Uncovering the Patterns of Brain Regions Involved in Different Story Reading Sub-processes, has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Such in-depth brain maps serve as a gateway to understanding and diagnosing learning difficulties like dyslexia – whereby the affected individual struggles with reading and comprehension.

In the meantime, computer-based assistive technologies such as the Nessy Learning Programme can help to boost the literacy skills of children with dyslexia, enabling them to gain confidence and setting them in good stead for the future.

(Credit image: Thinkstock/Andreas Rodriguez)

New computer game could boost reading skills of dyslexic pupils

A new computer game could help dyslexic pupils to improve their reading skills.

A new computer program developed to tackle dyslexia could help children from poor backgrounds – as well as those who are dyslexic – improve their reading skills, new research has claimed.

The implementation of assistive technologies for children with special educational needs has served as an effective method of learning for some time. It involves using digital software tools comprising a series of games and activities that centre around a range of topics – such as reading, spelling, comprehension and numeracy – to enhance a child’s skills in each area.

Boy with a notebook in park

This month, researchers at the University of Cambridge announced that the techniques designed for dyslexic children could also be a useful way of learning for children from poor homes, TES reports.

In order to explore this further, Usha Goswami – director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at the university – was granted £365,000 to conduct a trial using a computer game that considers the difficulties some children have in distinguishing individual sounds.

The programme, GraphoGame Rime, was created by a university in Finland and works to improve a child’s reading skills by testing their awareness of longer sounds within words.

Funding was awarded to Professor Goswami by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, and will be put to use in a randomised controlled trial with 400 children aged six and seven.

The participants will be required to match the sounds they hear through headphones to groups of letters they see on the screen for ten minutes each day. The level of sound between phonemes and syllables, called onset and rime, is the game’s main area of focus.

Once an activity is completed, the programme analyses the child’s answers, which will enable the researchers to assess whether playing significantly improves their reading skills.

According to Professor Goswami, focusing on onset and rime makes spelling more consistent when using longer sounds. For example, breaking up a word by the level of sound between phonemes and syllables would turn ‘cat’ into ‘c-at’.

She adds: “The computer game was developed for dyslexic children but [its use] suggests it should also be helpful for disadvantaged children generally, who typically have impaired language and reading skills.

“And indeed, the game should be helpful for all children in terms of teaching English phonics.”

The government and Ofsted have backed the use of synthetic phonics in primary schools: the former has introduced a phonics check for pupils aged six, as well as funding relevant resources and training; the latter has performed routine inspections to ensure phonics teaching is being implemented correctly.

Dr John Rack, director of education and research at Dyslexia Action, said: “From our point of view, we’ve always recognised that some kids don’t … hear all the small sound segments clearly, so for them it is better sometimes to use bigger chunks.

“We agree it may not be the best way to teach all children – using phonemes may be better. But for those who don’t get it we need to be more flexible, and units which are more consistent and easier to distinguish do play a part. We have an intervention programme, and onset and rime work is in that.”

More established computer games that target children with learning disabilities – and could also help those from poor homes – include the Nessy Learning Programme and Wordshark.

The former works to improve reading, spelling and writing and is a huge resource of strategies, worksheets and phonics, while the latter supports various aspects of reading and spelling that are designed to make literacy fun.

(Credit image: Thinkstock/iStock)

Brain structure could be different in dyslexic children

T476983311 (1)he brain structure of a dyslexic child could be different to that of a youngster without the condition.

The structural connectivity of a dyslexic child’s brain could be different to that of a typically developed child, a new study has suggested.

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in the reading and spelling of words. This includes struggling to recognise and decode words, and problems with comprehension. According to the NHS, an estimated one in ten people have dyslexia to some degree, with the condition affecting individuals from all walks of life.

Over the years, scientists have conducted copious amounts of research into discovering the exact cause of dyslexia. Specialist brain scans, in particular functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, have shed light onto reduced functioning of an area near the back of the brain called the occipito-temporal cortex.

However, little research has been performed on the sub-cortical brain regions that involve processes such as short and long-term memory, decision making and emotional reactions – all of which are affected in someone with dyslexia.

Researchers at Vanderbilt Peabody College in the US set out to examine the structural differences in the brain connectivity of 20 children with developmental dyslexia, compared to 20 typically developing readers. All participants were aged between eight and 17.

Focusing on the sub-cortical thalamus brain region, they used a specialised neuroimaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which works by visually mapping the structure of the brain.

The thalamus plays an important role in the brain and has multiple functions: it processes and relays sensory and motor information to different subcortical regions via nerve fibres that make up part of the brain’s white matter; and also regulates states of sleep and wakefulness, including arousal and the level of awareness.

It was hoped that the DTI method would produce a clearer picture of the thalamus and enable the researchers to gain a better understanding of its role in reading behaviour.

The results showed that in the dyslexic group, a different pattern of thalamic connectivity was found in their sensorimotor and lateral prefrontal cortices – in comparison to these brain regions in the typically developing group.

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Laurie Cutting said: “These results suggest that the thalamus may play a key role in reading behaviour by mediating the functions of task-specific cortical regions.

“Such findings lay the foundation for future studies to investigate further neurobiological anomalies in the development of thalamo-cortical connectivity in individuals with dyslexia.”

In a related study, the scientists decided to investigate the structural connectivity patterns in the left occipito-temporal region of the brain, which is important for reading.

Although past research has shown this area to have reduced functioning in people with dyslexia, few studies have focused on its visual word form functionalities.

The team set out to do so by performing diffusion MRI on the occipito-temporal region and surrounding area in 55 dyslexic and typically developing children.

Again, the brain structure differed between the two groups; those with dyslexia displayed greater connectivity to the regions involved with memory and vision, while the typically developing readers displayed increased connectivity to linguistic regions.

These studies reinforce the need to provide dyslexic children with additional help and support – both in school and at home.
One way in which teachers and parents can do so is by making use of assistive technologies. These digital software programs are interactive learning tools designed for people with learning difficulties. They involve a series of games and activities, which are a fun way of enhancing a child’s literacy and numeracy skills.