text. The text appeared rapidly on the display and a generated voice was convincing
enough and she even had a trace of personality. Flawless with numbers and text.
I learned enough over time to satisty myself that it was flawless with numbers and
text – as long as they were printed of course. Moving from a right hand to a left hand
was equally commendable on a settings change with the screen reversing to help
Let us remember who this is aimed at – learners of all ages who can hold a pen and
would like to hear the words they see written on a page. This helps with
understanding the context of a word on a line or to read a single word.
This then is a clear winner. The blue text is bright and high contrast against a black
background, although some may feel that it could be a little small for some students.
With recording facilities for voice and a scan-to-file function for those tricky
sentences or words, this a fantastic piece of technology.
Including a dictionary too is clever, although I did find this more difficult to use. The
translation into Spanish was a bit much for me to get to grips with (it also supports
French, German and Italian). If you are an able reader, the dictionary is best read by
yourself as the read-back includes all kinds of Collins notes that are included and
It kind of defeats the point if the best use of the dictionary in English or Spanish
relies on you having to read it back as most learners might not have the skill required
to use it. However, it is there and if learners are getting more confident, then you
never know what they might be able to achieve with the technology.
The ReaderPen cannot be taken into an examination because of its wealth of
exam-busting malpractice attributes, but its bright orange sibling, the C-Pen Exam
Reader can accompany children who are identified by the school. Its colour is most
distinctive and is reminiscent – to older readers at least – of the orange Austin
Allegro, Vanden Plas, but much better made!
Identical in form to the ReaderPen, the ExamReader is an electronically
stripped-down version that reads the words it scans back to students to support them
with accessing the language used in an examination. This is where I consider
students now being enabled to sit an exam on a more level playing field, having not
been able to secure a scribe or additional time.
It is a golden opportunity that I could not afford to miss personally and bought a class
pack for my own school. It is rare to do a review and then go out and buy the
They are certainly robust enough, so the only other factor is counting them all out
and counting them all back in again. Measuring the impact will be a little more
challenging, but in a world of uncertainties in examinations, this little electronic pen is
going to provide important facilities for those with literacy challenges who need them
most in a situation where they would otherwise have little or no support.
At our school, Madeley Academy, students have taken to the pen with a very short
lead time. Learning how to benefit from the pen takes an intuitive 10 to 15 seconds,
so we are not talking about a training session prior to use (although it would be wise
to give students the chance to handle and have a go before taking an exam).
Getting enough for the students is paramount as you don’t want to be found out
when you get to the last one so we bought a box set and a spare one, taking us to a
healthy 11 in number. One tiny hint before I go. We found within about half an hour
that we needed a USB charging hub. So cost this in too so that you can keep them
all topped up in very close proximity to whoever looks after them.
I am happy to oblige and support this opportunity as it might just make the difference
for students' life chances everywhere — and not just in school, at home too.
Ratings (out of 5) for both pens
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 4
Value for money 4