Compiled by Sandy Russo

C Pen

What is the C-Pen Reader?

The C-Pen Reader pen scanner is a portable hand held device that has an inbuilt high accuracy Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Scanner. This allows the pen to scan each letter of a word and turn it into speech, which a listener can hear through earplugs. It weighs 50 grams and comes with a handy pouch and earplugs and is both Mac and PC compatible.

The C-Pen is useful at school, home or in the workplace. It enables both students and adults to read any material of a flat surface to be read independently. This means a reader can scan text from a book, newspaper, magazine, recipe book, or even the ingredients on a box of biscuits.

To use the C-Pen effectively, a user needs to be able to move the pen as you would when using a highlighter across a line of text. A shaky hand would make the scanner accuracy less reliable. The pen may not work over all surfaces, e.g. a round glass jar, and may not work over all fonts.

C-Pen Exam Reader

There is also a C-Pen Exam Reader available. The exam pen only reads the text that has been scanned. It has been approved to be used in exam conditions in Australia.

How to trial a C-Pen or Exam Reader

You can see and trial the C-Pen Reader and Exam Reader at SPELD SA. The Special Education Resource Unit (SERU) has limited pens that you can borrow for up to 4 weeks if you are a DECD school or a parent. There is a waiting list to borrow a pen.

Where to buy a C-Pen or Exam Reader

The C-Pen Reader and Exam Reader are available through SPELD SA for $350. Purchase also includes free future upgrades.

Features of the C-Pen


The C-Pen features high quality naturally speaking British English, American English or Spanish voices.

Scan first and listen later

For some students that rely on the pen to read more than a word or phrase, the pen enables you to capture and save quotes and other text of interest quickly. The text is saved in text files which are then easily transferred to your computer and are editable. You can scan large amounts of text to read later using your computer’s text-to-speech program.

Not sure of a word? Use the inbuilt Dictionary

The C-Pen Reader can also look up a word for you when you need to explore its meaning. Once you have selected the dictionary mode you can scan the pen across a word and it instantly displays the definition and reads it out aloud.

The C- pen uses the Collins English Dictionary (30th Anniversary Edition Tenth edition) or the Oxford (Spanish>English>Spanish Dictionary) selected through the settings menu.

Built in recorder with playback

The C-Pen Reader also features a microphone connector, allowing you to record audio. The audio files are saved in the device and can be retrieved and listened to any time. You can also upload the audio files to your computer.

Is left/right handed friendly

In Settings, the device can be set to operate as either left or right-handed mode. The display simply “switches” to an upside down interface. The operating buttons are now to the right hand side of the user as is the scanning window. To reset it, just hold the unit in the left hand, scroll to Right-handed and press OK. All the menu item options are simple to operate and learn.

USB Drive

The C-Pen Reader also double as a USB drive. 3GB user space is available. Connect it to a USB port on your Mac, Windows or Linux computer.


The C-Pen Reader uses a standard micro USB connector for charging and connecting to computers, and a standard 3.5 mm connector for your favourite headphones.


Products are warranted against defects for 1 year from date of purchase.

Prerequisite skills may include:

  • Being able to independently hold the pen (in the left or right hand)
  • A steady hand to control the movement of the scanning window of the pen across the required text
  • Being able to hold the C-Pen at a constant 70-90 angle
  • Being able to initially and accurately target the first space before the intended or required text
  • Being able to hear the text from the inbuilt speaker or through the earpiece [Note: it may not suit some students who have a hearing impairment or who wear hearing aids.
  • Sufficient sight to be able to see and target the text to be scanned (some vision impaired users may find reading the device difficult as the text is quite small in the C-Pen’s window. They can certainly listen to the text though if a support person, parent, helper or another student is using the device with them or on their behalf)

Tips for scanning with the C-Pen

  1. Place the document to be scanned on a flat surface.
  2. Hold the pen just like holding a common pen. When the scanning trigger pin is pressed (lightly) towards the paper the scanning light will turn on. Without rushing it, start moving the pen along the text line as soon as the scan light is lit up. The scanning process will go on until the trigger pin is released.
  3. Ensure the angle between the tip and the surface is in the range of 70-90°, in order to enable the scanning light to turn on and to get high-quality images.
  4. To ensure a complete recognition, place the tip of the scan pen at the location about half a word in front of the first word of the text when starting scanning, and lift up the pen at the location about half a word after the last word when finishing scanning.
  5. During the scanning process, you may scan the text from right to left or from left to right.
  6. The scan pen can only recognise one text line at a time. You may not scan another row until the current row is recognised and displayed. Please align the text line to be scanned to the center of the pen’s Scanning Window. Avoid twisting the pen while scanning and avoid excessive up/down movements.
  7. Don’t push the Reader Pen too hard towards the paper surface.
  8. Carry out the scanning operation at a stable speed. The recommended speed is 8-10cm/s.
  9. When scanning a form composed of cells, avoid scanning the border lines of cells if possible; especially avoid vertical parts of the cell frame.
  10. The C-Pen Reader can scan words with sizes ranging from 7.5pt to 21pt.
  11. Text vs background contrast is important. Note that contrast between text and background may be low even if they are different colours that are readable by human eye.
  12. Select appropriate language in the main menu Settings (if your Reader Pen version supports multiple).
  13. Avoid strong ambient light (e.g. direct or reflecting sun light) or dark environment.

SPELD SA is generously supported by

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SPELD SA would like to acknowledge the support of the Douglas Whiting Trust in the development of this website.

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