I was getting ready to complete an assignment the other day, and discovered that I couldn't see the copy that was provided for me. My professor started to panic and wonder what to do. Luckily, I was able to create an accessible copy on my iPad in less than two minutes using Microsoft Office Lens. Here is my review of the app.
What is Microsoft Office Lens?
Microsoft Office Lens is a free app on Android and iOS that allows users to scan in copies of documents and whiteboards, and input them into other applications. The technology is also built into the OneNote app- more on OneNote here.
The app consists of a camera, with three options for what to scan in- photo, document, or whiteboard. The camera window does not take up the whole screen, but I've never had anything that didn't fit. I find it easy to lift my iPad or Android phone to scan in something.
All of the images I've scanned in look great, as long as I am sitting in a room with the lights on- documents scanned in rooms with only natural lighting tend to have mixed results. The whiteboard function scans with very high accuracy, but uncommon symbols and glare from lights can affect it.
The scanned images can be exported to almost any app and can be made accessible from there. One cool thing about using the function in OneNote is that the text of the image or whiteboard scan can be searched, as this app supports automatic alt text.
Easy to access
I can easily scan in something on my phone, and have it sync with my iPad using OneDrive, which is Microsoft's cloud storage solution. I do this when lighting conditions are more questionable, or if lifting my iPad gives off too much of a shadow.
While I prefer to export these images to OneNote, there are several other apps that support Office Lens. On my iPad, these apps are Word, PowerPoint, email, PDF, OneDrive, Notability, and photo library.
After users take a photo of the whiteboard or document, the software automatically crops and straightens the document, and allows users to crop it further if needed. They can also retake images, or add a new image with the +1 icon.
What I have used it for
I have used the Lens technology in almost all of my classes. Here are some examples:
- Scanning in a math quiz and completing it in another app
- Taking a picture of a diagram in my Java clas
- Making a science test accessible
- Scanning in my advisor sheet for my major
- Reading a flyer my friend gave me
How my professors have reacted
My professors have reacted very favorably to me using Lens, since I am able to make anything accessible. They have all been very fascinated with the technology, which I demonstrate to them prior to me using it, so they can see I'm not cheating.
I love Microsoft Office Lens! This app and function is incredibly helpful, since I can make a document accessible in less than two minutes. I consider it an essential for every student, especially those who receive accessible materials.