KNFBReader iOS App Announced for $99

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Update, 7/15/2014, 12:22 PM CDT: Added a link to the official unveiling and demonstration of the KNFBReader app.

K-NFB Reading Technology has today announced a wealth of information about the upcoming KNFBReader iOS app.

The KNFBReader iPhone app, which is expected to be available to the public in late August for $99, was demonstrated at the 74th annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a membership organization of blind people in the United States.

Some of the features of the KNFBReader iPhone app include:

  • Recognition of PowerPoint slides, from up to 25 feet away.
  • Scanning and OCR for PDF documents.
  • A "Field of View" report for documents.
  • A book scanning mode for quickly scanning many pages.
  • The ability to navigate text by word, sentence, etc.
  • The ability to save in a variety of file formats, including PDF.
  • The ability to scan business cards and save to contacts
  • Recognition and translation between different languages.

K-NFB Reading Technology has made a recording of the official unveiling and demonstration of the KNFBReader app available at

Will you be purchasing the KNFBReader iPhone app? Let us know in the comments!



Submitted by Aaron C on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I will absolutely be buying this app, and probably upgrading my iPhone to get the best experience. I can easily see this becoming as valuable to me as my iPhone itself.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I was floored by the demos in 2008 and once again am floored in 2014. My x actually predicted this in 2011 and his prediction came true. I think he will be recommending this to his clients when it comes out.

Submitted by Ro on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chatting with a friend about the price and when I said I'd never seen an app for more than twenty bucks he said I wasn't looking hard enough haha. I'm sure the app is worth it but wow. Do they have a layaway? Haha!

Submitted by Michael Hansen on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I thought the demo was impressive...and that's putting it mildly. The OCR was very good, even on the PowerPoint slide scanned at 25 feet away. It's also really cool that the app supports "40-50 different languages" and translation between them, as well as OCR of PDF documents.

Submitted by JT on Sunday, July 6, 2014

if it was 2010. Things have moved on and I think it is to much, for to little, to late.

Submitted by Ro on Sunday, July 6, 2014

While I still think the price is insane, when my boyfriend found out I might finally be able to easily read my own stupid insurance mail, he said he would buy it.

this has me thinking though. Does the NFB just know how many other apps we've all frustratingly tried and knows it can get that amount for this app?

And is there a lite version to try before dropping that amount of cash?

One of the things I miss about being sighted is reading my own dang mail.

Well as I stated someware on my twitter tl if you factor in higering a reader for a onth, cab fair, time and energy it will take to read the mail or book to you or what ever, $99 will pay for itself every single month.This combined wiht docuscan will be a good solution for the blind.

Submitted by Michael Hansen on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Marrie,

Unless I'm horribly mistaken, I believe the $99 price tag is for a one-time purchase, not an ongoing subscription.

Submitted by Tikki on Sunday, July 6, 2014


honestly, I really don't know what should be worth such a high price here. Most things mentioned I can accomplish by other means, which don't cost me so much money. For example, I already get quite good scanning results with prizzmo. On the odd PDF file I maybe get once a year, I can perform a OCR on my PC. Unless this translation feature is absolutely perfect, which I don't really believe, I don't know why to spend this money.

Submitted by Clare Page on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hi! I have an important question which I will ask on behalf of all non-Americans reading this. Given that this KNFB Reader IOS app has been developed by an American advocacy organisation for the blind, that got me wondering, will it be available outside the USA? If it is, I'm still not sure whether I will buy it, as I usually only try to do OCR on my iPhone when my PC is out of action, but I'm sure it would still be useful to many people to know whether the KNFB Reader IOS app will be in app stores all over the world, or just in the US one.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I don't know the answer but I have another question.
Will i be able to scan books with this app and I've tried other OCR scanning apps and they didn't work at all for me. what makes this one different and why would I want it?
I can understand scanning my male and i might by it for that but I'd at least like to here a demo first.

Submitted by alex wallis on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Having listened to an audio boo demonstrating the app posted by someone who attended one of the demonstrations, it certainly sounded quite good.
I will probably get the app, because I have had limited success with prismo, and in fact find the guided mode that tries to help focus in on the page more of a hindrance than a help, it wasn't well implemented.
I get some results with text detective though far from good results, and that only cost a few pence.
I am aware of knfb readers great reputation so I am expecting something very good especially for the price tag and considering the fact people hold on to old phones just to keep using it.

Submitted by Jim D on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I'm not sure about availability outside the United States. As it supports multiple languages, one would certainly think so.
However, to the second question, Unless KNFB does something really odd and doesn't go through the app store, which I can't imagine why they wouldn't, you will be able to transfer this app to any iDevice you own. App purchases are associated with your iTunes account and once you buy an app, you can load that app on other iDevices you own under the same iTunes account.
Hope this helps.

Submitted by LP on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I don't know why the "small Market" argument is being used here. AI Squared is a small company and is developing access tech for this same "small market" and they are able to charge $20 for Zoom-Reader. Also, it seems like there are many other applications that does the same things that KNFB Reader does. For example, Text-Detective, Text-grabber, Prizmo, and Google-Goggles. Another thought is that the demos of KNFB Reader seemed very scripted, and I wonder if people will get the same results when they go to use KNFB Reader in their everyday tasks.

Submitted by Octocorn on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Well, I scanned a tones of books using simple Canon flatbed scanner and I shooted some documents using FS Pearl and some IOS apps such as Prismo, Text Grabber and Fine Scanner. The results of standard scanner and photo shooting are not comparable. Standard scanner gives out a way better results than any cammera I tried so far.
Comparing just cammeras, FS Pearl gave me the best results and that's because of one thing everyone should have in their minds - Pearl has a heavy stand, you are not using it with your hands.
From all that experience I strongly doubt KNFB Reader will have better results than the apps I already tried. If you want to do any serious work with OCR with cammera, you need to put the cammera on the stand and to have the material you're shooting also fixed. There's no way you can do it with a free hand and to get decent results. So, $99 for this app is just waste of money because you'll get more less same results with the apps with considerably lower prices. Yes, of course, you can shoot bills and similar weekly mail but you can do it with cheaper apps, you don't need to pay $99 just because you're blind.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Sunday, July 6, 2014

We could pay $99 for a one off thing, if it works well,, or pay monthly for a scanner like the one from system access which would in the end be more than $99, or we can pay for a flatbed scanner and then by scanning program for pc which are more than $099

Submitted by Ro on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Since loosing my site in '08 I have not been able to read my own mail. The scanners and such that are available were way too much and I get no assistance with blind tech. Does anyone know if the NFB will let us use a lite version to test this app before dropping so much money on it? I have no luck with any of the other apps mentioned. Maybe my hands shake too much.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, July 6, 2014

No lite version that I"m aware of but maybe ask the knfb folks if they can do that, like text that will stay on the screen for 30 seconds so you can see what the results will be.

I personally want to buy it as I have no luck with ocr and the camera will just keep getting better on the ios devices.

Submitted by Siobhan on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hi. first off, I'm sorry you lost your sight. No it's not pity it's just a statement. second, have you looked into the commission for the blind wherever you live? Also how about the lions clubs? Granted you may be forgive me a bit old, as they deal with younger adults, teens that sort of thing, it's it's a go to. Once in a great while one of these comes on sale, it's a machien called SARA or Scanning and reading appliance, now iwth a camera attached. as you said, this is not cheap 1800 American dollars, but i for one will eventually buy one. Provided nothing comes out before i save the cash. I would try and look in the classified section. they have braille displays, they have cc tvs though that might not help you. Hope i helped. Sorry if I sound disjointed, i'm hungry!! :)

Submitted by rdfreak on Monday, July 7, 2014

I don't see why it shouldn't be available in other countries; afterall, I had the KNFB reader on my talks phone here in Australia.
Even though I found it very difficult to use the prev version on the Nokia, I will def buy this; sounds pretty good.
I would assume one could transfer the app from one device to the other like any other app; I mean I can't see why there'd be a problem.

Submitted by Brooke on Monday, July 7, 2014

It's a lot of money, but to me it'll be worth it, and so I'll be buying it. It would be great if there was some sort of trial, even a day or two, because it's a lot of money to drop on something we haven't been able to try.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Monday, July 7, 2014

I will fork over the money after I hear about experiences from people who will be using this in non-scripted situations. I'm not saying that the demo was scripted, but when a company demos its own product like this, it makes one suspicious. If I hear good things, I will buy. If I don't, ... oh well.

Submitted by Toonhead on Monday, July 7, 2014

It really is too bad they aren't going to provide some kind of limited demo people can use. I mean, like it or not not everyone has a hundred bucks of disposable income just lying around, screaming out to be spent on an iOS app.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Monday, July 7, 2014

I just emailed KNFB and will post there response when I get it.

Hopefully they will be able to answer our questions.

Submitted by Octocorn on Monday, July 7, 2014

Brad said:
"...or we can pay for a flatbed scanner and then by scanning program for pc which are more than $099"
Of course we can. Decent flatbed scanner is around $100 and ABBYY Fine Reader for PC can be bought for about $200 and it is tripple times KNBF Readers price but with flatbed scanner and AFR you'll get the results and the job done which I can't say about phone apps.
The main reason I'm frustrated about this is the price. Just because this is a specialized product for the blind it automatically costs us a fortune comparing to the similar apps for the general population. That's just not right and it is disgraceful!

Submitted by Michael on Monday, July 7, 2014

It would seem to me that this app, or any other that does basically the same thing, is only as good as the camera you're using to "see" the document. I am like some of you, I want to hear demos of this app in action, from someone not affiliated with NFB to insure it will do what they say it does. I want to hear the results of reading cans, boxes, CD covers, transit schedules, mail and so many more things. I don't see how it could do any better than the rest of the apps out there, because the iPhone camera is only so good at taking the picture of the document. Add in lighting, the shaking of the hand, that's a lot of variables for any scanning app. As far as the $99 goes, I think it could have been cheaper. The fact that there isn't a Lite version makes me more suspicious than ever that it won't do as promised. If it can do all they say it can, it will be worth the $99 and then some.

Submitted by Ginsenshi on Monday, July 7, 2014

as someone who used the KNFB Reader Mobile on the n86, I will be buying this . I just hope it will be usable on my old iPhone 4S

Submitted by Ro on Monday, July 7, 2014

If the KNFB Reader isn't as good as we're all hoping, I'll probably look into finally going scanner and Mac app. Unfortunately as far as all the blind orgs and the help they offer, It sucks I went blind young, at 29, because I fall into a total grey area for assistance. Add that my primary disability and the cause of my blindness, MS, keeps me from being in a vocational or school program and yeah poof, there goes help. But, I do ok. :)

Hope you got some food in you. *Grin*

Submitted by SoundSchemer on Monday, July 7, 2014

$99? now that, is just as ridiculous as the HumanWare Communicator for $249 hahahahahaha

But, I suppose that's why they call them applications, to apply money to their accounts hahahahahahahahahahaha

Submitted by Tristan on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I truly don't grasp why you guys are being so hard on the price. I realize this is 2014, not 2005. However, you should still be greatful! If I wanted an accessible application back then, it would've been thousands of dollars. I don't understand why you guys just sit here complaining about prices when you should be greatful the app will be there in the first place. Be happy for what you have; most of the blind community asks for is more, more, and more. I'm not saying settle for what you have, because that's never the answer, but neither is complaining.
I totally acknowledge $99 is... half the price of an iPod touch and a third of the price for an iPhone. But one thing that's hardly been said is that the blind community is fairly small. If this app is truly what it's cracked up to be, they must have put hundreds if not thousands of dollars into the development. Of course they're going to want to recover some of the revenue they put into making the thing in the first place.
If you have anything constructive, feel free to respond to me with it, but the atitudes are really poor at this point, especially the last poster.
Come on, guys. I know I sound harsh, but you guys are being so judgmental and preemptive on this it isn't even funny. I can point out a few apps on the app store created by sighted people that are hundreds of dollars; this is not an issue that pertains just to blind or visually impaired people.
Lastly, obviously they're aware of the competition. They're working with other blind people on this app is released, and if I had to wager some of those blind people have used other apps like prismo or TextDetective before.

Remember that they will not be getting the full price of the app when we buy it bu they will be getting about $70 back at them. Apple takes a 30 percent cut out of every app purchase and in app purchase so they have to charge a bunch to brake even. or at least enough to get something back.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

i have never been able to understand the business model. if this was braille typing app, then yes only blind people would use it. if i am a developer of such app, i'll price accordingly based on my business objective.

apps like note taking, navigation and OCR are not niche products. if an app is so good and so easy even the blind can use, it can certainly be marketed to the mass, unless it is not really that good. sure, there are features some sighted folks may never use, but that is also true for many other apps. recognizing text 25 feet away? why wouldn't a sighted person want that?

as for things used to cost thousands, we are comparing apple to orange here. those are specialized devices and specialized software, and in many cases, government agencies paid the bill. many companies produced those things aren't even around any more, you don't think people had to worry about their own retirement?

Submitted by Amanda on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

If I'm going to spend that much, I want a limited time demo to see if it is worth it.

Submitted by Aaron C on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In reply to by LaBoheme

"apps like note taking, navigation and OCR are not niche products. if an app is so good and so easy even the blind can use, it can certainly be marketed to the mass, unless it is not really that good. sure, there are features some sighted folks may never use, but that is also true for many other apps. recognizing
text 25 feet away? why wouldn't a sighted person want that?"

A better question in my mind is why would they want that? Don't most of them already have that feature built into their heads? What am I missing?

Submitted by Ro on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I saw a retweet from KNFB that stated a demo version is not made possible by Apple. Ok then, make a Lite version. I think that would stop a lot of questions about the price right there. Before I spent $20 on the MLB At Bat app, I tried the Lite version and bought the app the same day.

NFB, make a Lite version we can try for free and we'll stop complaining. Well, some of us will. ;)

Submitted by Russ Kiehne on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In reply to by Ro

I'm hoping it will work with my ipod touch 5th generation, It has a 5mp
camera. This is why I would like to try before I buy. From what they said in
the demo, it won't work as well with older iphones. From what I understand,
this is because the older iphones don't have the higher quality camera like
the newest ones.

It's price sure is better than the $700.00 HIMS wants for the Blaze. It has a
5mp camera like my ipod touch. From the demo I hear it does well with it's
5mp camera. This is why I'm hoping KNFB reader will work as well on my ipod
touch. I don't have an iphone.

Submitted by Octocorn on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

@Aaron C:
And I repeat why not? Why does sighted people use scanners and scan books when they are able to read hard print? No matter if I'm blind or fully sighted I'd rather shoot PowerPoint presentation and perform OCR instead of taking notes down manually.
@Russ Kiehne:
I don't know why they said older iPhones and not sure which older iPhones exactly. The symbian version was capable of working with 5mp cammera (N82, N95) so I see no reason why it wouldn't work with iPod Touch 5G.

Submitted by Vash Rein on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I actually wish apple could adopt one adroid model. That is to allow a person to buy and download an app, use for 15 minutes, and if they do not believe it is worth the price, can delete it within 15 minutes, and not be charged.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My problem with this ap is two things: 1. As far as I know there will be no demo. This is bad, and by the way knfb didn't get back to me on the questions I asked. 2. How will it handle tables?
For example: Let's say I'm reading a bill for my electric or something and it's in a table how will the app handle it?
I've never read a bill before so don't know if they're in tables or not.
That's why I'd like a flatbed scanner myself because at least with that I could probably make it into a txt file or word file then read with my screen reader commands.
But if there's a demo and or light version I'd probably try it. Oh... I've just had a strange thought... What if they said okay, we'll give them a light version but you'd still have to pay for it, if they do that, I won't by the product at all... I don't think... Hmm I still can't decide.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I don't think making a lite app would be impossible. When apps like MBraille came out, some people thought the price for that was high. If I'm not mistaken, you can now download the app, try it out with limited features, and if you like it, make an in-app purchase upgrade. I believe that is true of MBraille, but it is certainly true of other apps. Hopefully, this reader will employ such an idea.

Submitted by Justin on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sooo, why don't they make tha app itself free, then have an in-app purchase for $99 to unlock all it's features? I think that would solve all the problems right then and there! At least, that's what I think. :)

Submitted by Ka Yat Li on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I went to the session on the KNFB Reader while at convention and they did demonstrate reading tables. It read the tables just fine. There are different modes depending on if you're reading tables or not. One of the modes reads from left to right and then the other mode reads vertically.

To the user talking about the iPod 5, I don't think it's so much a camera issue, though that's part of it. The demo recognized text really fast because of the much faster processor that you will find on the 5s. There is also a much better camera on the 5s than the iPod 5. So my guess, and that's all it is at this point, is that you will get results with the iPod, but but not quite what the demo showed.
As far as a lite version, it's really not too difficult. Have the ability to scan 1 page without any options to save, and the ability to open 1 page of a pdf file without the option to save anything, and then you can test out if the OCR will work for you. There are a lot of other features, of course, but the OCR is the core of the app, and having the ability to see if it will work for you will be the deciding factor for everyone. Sure, you may OCR a print page once in a while for free, but most people usually want to do something with that page, and most likely won't want to deal with restarting the app to scan each page of a document.

Submitted by Aaron C on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It is possible that the reason they aren't offering a light demo is because they can't. They are including in the app at least one professional grade OCR engine, perhaps more, and it certainly seems plausible that their license agreement could be what is preventing them from offering a demo or even a subscription.

Submitted by Lynn Karowsky on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The app sounds as if it is a huge improvement and far more versatile than the KNFB Mobile Nokia phone I used to use, or the Prizmo app I currently have on my iPhone 5. I definitely will purchase it if the actual user reviews are consistent with its expected features.

Submitted by J.P. on Thursday, July 10, 2014

There will be something else available around December. It is called Pocket Scan. Actual scanner that fits in palm. It has OCR built in and will have companion app. It's being funded on Kickstarter until July 16th. It is a Swiss company. It will work with VO on iOS. Spoke with developer and being tested by blind users now. It will be $150. I feel more practical. A blind reader essentially, but not $2000. Weighs less than a pound.