University of Plymouth

This particular case study follows a student named Sophie from the University of Plymouth who has implemented the ReaderPen into her studying on her Politics and International Relations course. She’s in her second year currently and was overwhelmed with all the work she needed to do for her essays. She was often taking upwards of three to four hours to read through a chapter in a book for her studies and taking quotes was a laborious process. She then received the funding from DSA to get the ReaderPen which she initially thought of as a bit of a novelty. But then she began to use it. It quickly became a part of her everyday studies as she realised how useful it was for her. She could now read through a chapter in thirty minutes, a huge difference, and most of the time saved came from how easy it was for her to look up words. Before she had the ReaderPen, finding words in the dictionary was difficult as she didn’t know the first letter or couldn’t spell them properly, but the ReaderPen was an instant support. This proved particularly useful considering the academic books she was expected to read in her course. She could use this function anywhere and didn’t feel uncomfortable using it in front of friends who often marvelled at the pen.


Sophie mentioned how extremely convenient the scan-to-file feature was. She could read a quote herself, or scan it to have it read, and then put it straight into her word document. She didn’t have to worry about misquoting or making mistakes with important quotes anymore. Sophie even mentioned a friend of hers that thought the scan-to-file feature was so good that she wanted a C-Pen for herself, even though she doesn’t struggle with reading.


The student also studied Spanish which she could use the Spanish function to help with the spelling of words. She mainly used the dictionary function of the C-Pen in Spanish to help her understand the word, never having it read out.


She finishes the interview thanking DSA and Scanning Pens for the ReaderPen and saying

“Give EVERYBODY the ReaderPen because I can’t see how it wouldn’t help anybody”


Point of view: Student

Learning difficulty: Dyslexia




Teacher: What university do you go to soph?


Sophie: University of Plymouth.


Teacher: Great! What course are you taking?


Sophie: Politics and international relations.


Teacher: And what year are you in right now?


Sophie: My second year.


Teacher: Awesome, where did you get the ReaderPen from?


Sophie: I got it from DSA


Teacher: You did! You got it from DSA, you got from and assessment.


Sophie: Yeah


Teacher: Okay. Why did you receive the ReaderPen?


Sophie: Because I have dyslexia and I was struggling to find words in dictionaries because I didn’t know how to spell them. And it was taking me a really long time to read books and write the quotes out and by the time I’d read it I had forgotten what I wanted to say anyway.


Teacher: Let’s talk about life before the ReaderPen. Before the ReaderPen, how much time did you spend looking up words?


Sophie: I did a chapter the other day and it only took me about half an hour where usually it would have taken me about three or four hours.


Teacher: Oh my god, really? That was the ReaderPen?


Sophie: Yeah! I literally just scanned the bits I needed.


Teacher: And had it read out to you?


Sophie: Yeah, the words I didn’t know.

(High fives eachother)


Teacher: Brilliant. Lost my train of thought there. So that was life before the ReaderPen  and of course with the ReaderPen it does that for you. So, what study environments do you use the ReaderPen?


Sophie: I use it in the library, but mainly I use it in my accommodation.


Teacher: Oh really? okay! So at the library, your accommodation, at your desk… There are a couple features you’ve used then, let’s name off a couple. So the first one is obviously the dictionary.


Sophie: Yeah, that (the dictionary) is really useful. Before, if I couldn’t find the first letter or was spelling the word wrong it would take a long time.


Teacher: oh yeah, that would be a pain. I remember when we talked earlier you said you read past some words and tried to take in the general context. Can you tell me what you did before and how that’s improved?


Sophie: I used to just guess words. I didn’t know what they were, and I’d get the meanings wrong. Now I just scan it and listen back to it and use the dictionary if I don’t know what it means.


Teacher: Beforehand, did that impact your studies?


Sophie: Yes, I used to take a really long time. And I used to get feedback on essays saying I hadn’t actually answered the question. Or I misinterpreted a quote because I didn’t understand.


Teacher: I see. Alright, using the ReaderPen in your research then.


Sophie: Mmhmm


Teacher: So what you’re saying is your actual research lacked any robust literary application. Okay, so the second function which is totally cool, tell me your process with the scanning.


Sophie: I scan it in, and first I get it read back to me. So it helps me understand the whole meaning. Then I take out the quotes I want and plug it into my MacBook and select character scanning and I can scan the words I want straight onto a word document. So it’s a lot quicker than typing it out.


Teacher: It’s HUGELY quicker. And then what do you do with those references?


Sophie: I put them into my essays. At least I know they’re accurate.


Teacher: Because before they weren’t accurate?


Sophie: Yeah


Teacher: Okay. So we’ve just covered another feature, but there’s another one you mentioned, an oddball you threw me, you said about Spanish. Tell me about that. You’re dyslexic, and you’re learning Spanish so…


Sophie: Well I’m learning Spanish, and I found a Spanish dictionary on there. I’ve been using the translator to tell me what words were and scanning to check the spelling, because Spanish has lots of little accents.


Teacher: Yeah! Of course it does, and you’re writing our strange words as well. So I’ve not used that feature much, how much of an impact has that had on you?


Sophie: A lot better! Because, before I worked out, I could use the ReaderPen for that I was missing a lot of the answers on my recent work as well. And it helps spelling.


Teacher: I see, does it speak it out loud to you?

Sophie: I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve ever used it like that. I’ve just used the dictionary.


Teacher: To look at the word’s meaning?


Sophie: Yeah, and to check the spelling


Teacher: There’s a version in Arabic coming out, do you think that would help with learning another language with dyslexia?


Sophie: Definitely, especially because there’s different characters to English as well.


Teacher: Okay and tell me about your friend. Your friends, who’s seeing you work wonders with this?


Sophie: So I spend a lot of time in the library in groups, with friends. My friend asks me what I was doing, and I explained to her how I was taking the quotes out of the book and she said that she now wants one because when she does her dissertation, she’ll have to spend forever typing out the quotes. So now she said she asked her mum to put it on her Christmas list.


Teacher: Oh okay, so that’s just for scanning things in pretty darn quick. So what about the dictionary or anything like that?


Sophie: she also liked to hear it back.


Teacher: Yeah, hearing it back makes it a million times better. So what would you say to other students in DSA who come through and are a little apprehensive about getting support?


Sophie: Just take it. It makes a massive difference. I think we both thought the pen was a bit of a novelty to start with but then you actually start using it.

Teacher: Right, okay, its evidence based that with these sorts of applications with every pound we invest we get money back because you end up graduating. So is there anything you want to add or say to the funding body with regards to them putting this in place? Which is DSA.


Sophie: Give everybody the ReaderPen because I can’t see how it wouldn’t help anybody. My friend who wanted it doesn’t even have dyslexia and she even said it would help her. So, if you definitely struggle with words, I don’t see any way it wouldn’t help you. Oh, and thank you.  




Leeds City College ReaderPen Case Study

A radically new delivery model for maths at Leeds City College was introduced in September 2016 and has resulted in a significant increase in the number of students taking a GCSE rather than a Basic Skill qualification. The model is based around personalised learning programmes, coaching, high quality online learning. Historically, only students with a grade D or above were offered the opportunity to take a GCSE and those with a lower or no grade took a Basic Skill. We currently have 7319 GCSE English and maths enrolments. This large number of students results in a significant amount of our learners requiring exam access arrangements, by far the most common need is dyslexia, this results in the need for a reader and often a small or separate room with a trained reader. As of the 2018 summer exam series we had 1218 access arrangements. The need for readers in exams is by far one of the most common Exam Access Arrangements (EAA) as we work to support such a large number of students, the use of technology to facilitate examinations has become essential.

Leeds City College is a champion of technology enhanced learning, as such, we were keen to accept the opportunity of trialling the reading pens with our learners. Our key aim in trialling the reading pens was to improve our students’ independence both during exams and in lessons. This would, in turn, alleviate the need for human readers, in exams and in sessions. In September 2018 we trialled 50 of the exam reading pens with students that had an identified need for a reader and were also sitting a GCSE resit in the academic year. Students were carefully selected by the English and Maths Leads in each department to ensure that using a scanning pen was the most appropriate support. Students and staff were trained in using the pens and using them became the students’ normal way of working.

Students used the pens during the November 2018 exam series and this was found to be logistically effective as it alleviated the need for as many human readers on exam days. While the sample of students was too small to see any significant impact on results in November 2018, the overwhelmingly positive feedback from

students led Leeds City College to purchase the 50 exam reader pens, as well as, trialling 10 reader pens and 10 dictionary pens from January 2019.

We found that using the reading pens both in class and in exams helped to build student independence, allowed students to access texts without the need for tutor or LSA support. This also had a positive impact on students’ confidence, wellbeing and attitude to learning.

The feedback from staff surveyed was overwhelmingly positive;

That they can be more independent in their work and do not need to rely on a member of staff reading questions for them. Some said that they often felt self- conscious about asking staff to read for them, so prefer being able to do this by themselves more discreetly.”

“Builds learner confidence with the reading elements of GCSE English.”

“They have found the pens helpful in their lessons. The students who used it in the exams thought that it gave them the assistance they needed to access the texts, and they preferred the autonomy it gave them.”

“Reduced the requirement to have staff as readers.”

Student testimonial:

Student - “The reader pen I was given to test is very good in general it reads extremely well across black text on a white background as it can distinguish the text well. The dictionary function is helpful in certain situations although it does struggle a little bit to read text under 10PT (This Size) along with having some trouble reading other colours on white backgrounds and having a problem with certain font styles including (This One) these disadvantages are miniscule compared to advantages”

Student- “I liked being able to do the work in class without asking the LSA to help me. I like that I can use it in all my lessons and use it for my work at home. It makes me feel more independent.”

In summation, Leeds City College will continue to champion assistive technology to enhance the learning experience. By creating an inclusive environment within the classroom and examinations. We believe that by developing our students’ confidence, independence and motivation they will be enabled to progress into higher education, apprenticeships and employment.

Kelso High School, Scotland

Your name

Elaine Dyer

Your role

Principal Teacher of Support for Learning

Your school name

Kelso High School, Scotland

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

Mainstream Rural Secondary School, Scotland, age 11 – 18 (S1 – S6)

What do you like most about the ReaderPen?

Our pupils really like their simplicity and immediateness of the device. They like the size and discreteness when they are using them in class and transporting them around the school. Our pupils like the fact they can work independently with their learning and are not left behind their peers.

Please describe how you are using the ReaderPen?

Our pens are regularly used to promote inclusive approaches within mainstream classes.

Please describe how the use of the ReaderPen has affected your students’ academic work?

Students are able to make real and meaningful progress with their learning which matches their intellectual capacities.

Please describe how it has helped your student’s confidence/independence?

Our students report feeling confident at attending classes and working independently despite their difficulties. DC is happy at school despite all the anxieties he had at Transition to Secondary. CG is leaving school this year and has been accepted to study Dentistry at the top University in Scotland. He states that the Reader pen has been an effective tool in relation to his success.

Please describe any areas in your school where you feel the ReaderPen has made an impact for example academic results, resourcing of staff and cost savings.

Resourcing of staff is one of the biggest issues currently. I intend to purchase additional scanning pens in my next year allocation to counteract the reduction in staffing due to cuts within our authority.

How likely are you to recommend the ReaderPen to others?

I have already recommended these at the event I hosted, but also demonstrated these at a Complex Needs Unit Sharing Good Practice event, and to my fellow PTs SfL Group Meeting.


Carol Crookes, Assistant SENDCo, Winterhill School

Your name

Carol Crookes

Your role

Assistant SENDCo, specialist assessor within school

Your school name

Winterhill School

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

Secondary school in Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Did you trial the Exam Reader / Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?
Yes, our school trialled the reader pens in the mock exams. We looked at the results of those mock exams and spoke to staff, parents and students about using them.

What do you most like about the ReaderPen?

They give the students as much independence as possible whilst still needing a reader.
The reader pens can be used in the English exams which is a huge plus for having the reader pens

Please describe how you are using the ReaderPen?

The reader pens are being predominantly used by students in a larger venue than previously used as they can use their ear phones.

Please describe how the use of the ReaderPen has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?
The GCSE exams have only just started today (14th May) so we will monitor the impact they have had

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the ReaderPen has helped (staff time savings, school results, cost savings etc)

We are going to use the reader pens for our EAL students to help with their language development

How likely are you to recommend the ReaderPen to others?

I would yes

Kathryn Ramage, Principal Teacher Pupil Support from Hawick High School provided the following feedback about the C-Pen Reader:

Describe your school

Role of 1000 pupils, deprivation area with identified index of need

Ages 11-18

Semi-rural location in an area where unemployment rates are high and industry has declined therefore job opportunities limited

Did you trial the C-Pen Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?

The reader was trialled over a 7 month period originally with pupils in the Scottish BGE phase (secondary 1-3 ages 11- 14)

We used data from the Midyis S2 assessment screener to identify pupils who would benefit from a literacy intervention to support needs

We used data from the start of the project and compared to data at the end of the trial. We also monitored effects on pupil confidence with literacy and increases in self-esteem.

What do you most like about the C-Pen Reader?

Very easy to use and portable. Discreet resource for pupils to use within all mainstream classes.  A real novelty item which pupils were keen to use.

Audio point for headphones were useful as does not distract others when working in a class or group- super for our auditory learners.

Please describe how you are using the C-Pen Reader?

Using with identified pupils within the pupil support department of school (approx. 30 pupils accessing this at differing times of the school day)

Especially useful for identified dyslexic pupils and those that have phonics or decoding difficulties.

Please describe how the use of the C-Pen Reader has affected your students?

Pupils enjoy using the pen and have gained confidence with literacy matters.  Pupils readily ask for use of the pen and see it as a great tool for supporting their needs.

Independence has improved and therefore there is less need for adult support on a 1:1 basis within groups and classes.  The pen will not replace human beings though!

How likely are you to recommend the C-Pen Reader to others?

I have already demonstrated this to my colleagues who are also heads of departments at all Scottish Borders secondary schools.

It was shared at an INSET training day for staff and demonstrated by myself also- we had over 100 teachers at that event in November 2016.

I will continue to recommend this to others and to parents who may also find this a useful tool when doing homework with their young person.

C-Pen Reader Product Review by Sight Concern Worcestershire

Sight Concern’s new Advice and Support Officer for Worcester – Teresa Cox visited Sight Village earlier in the Summer and she was very impressed with the new C-Pen Reader from Scanning Pens Limited. Teresa says “It is a great new gadget for those with some useful vision – it will enable clients to be able to read written text on a page or packet, enabling them to be more independent ” 

The C-Pen Reader pen scanner is a totally portable, pocket-sized device that reads text out aloud with an English human-like digital voice. Simply pass the nib across a word and it instantly reads it aloud. It is also a scanner for capturing lines of text and uploading to a PC or Mac, making it ideal to capture essential information. 

The pen is half the size of other portable pen scanners on the market and at 50g is half the weight. There is no software required, just connect the pen up to a computer with a USB cable and it appears as an external hard drive. Other features include a built-in voice recorder with playback. 

Avril Stockley, Deputy Head (Inclusion) from Derwentwater Primary School provided the following feedback about the C-Pen Reader:


 Describe your school: 

3 form entry mainstream primary school with a nursery located in Acton, West London. The school building is over 100 years old. Diverse socio-economic context; large number of EAL and Pupil Premium children. 

Did you have the opportunity to trial the pen before purchase? 

I trialled the pen at an Optimus conference I was attending. I then purchase 1 exam reader and 1 reader to see how the children would get on with using them in school before making a larger order of 10 additional readers for children in Year 3 – 5 and 3 additional exam readers for children in Year 6. 

During the trial what struck you as a positive feature for your school to go ahead with an order? 

During the trial the children began to demonstrate noticeably increased levels of independence within quite a short space of time. It also improved their resilience and removed some of the behaviours that were associated with their frustration. 

Which areas do you feel the use of the pen will impact upon for your school’s needs? 

We have several children whose confidence is taking a dip as they are finding reading and writing harder / more challenging. For these children, having a useful aid that is perceived as ‘cool’ will really help in the future. 

Have the students expressed any comments or thoughts on the Reader pen? 

The children love using their pens. They do think they’re ‘cool’ – and so do their friends which has helped to boost self-esteem. Parents have reported that the children have been talking about them at home and have come in to find out where 

they can buy / order them from. The Year 6 exam-pen pupil has taken on the role of trainer to other children who will be using the pen next year, sharing his top tips. 

Within the classroom environment have teaching and support staff noticed any positive outcomes for the students? 

Teachers were initially reticent about trusting the children with such an expensive resource. They were worried it would be a hassle charging them, or that they would get lost. The opposite has been true. The children have responded really well to the responsibility that has been given to them. The older children are organising the charging themselves. The younger children are checking with their teachers for charging, but it is not causing any difficulties. Teachers have commented that it makes some differentiation easier, as it is not always necessary to totally rewrite texts etc. 

Would you recommend the pen to other colleagues? 

I would definitely recommend the pen as a tool / resource for children to use to support their independent access to curriculum learning. 

Any other comments you would like to add? 

Because the children are more independent, they have become less reliant on adult support and there has been a reduction in the need for different texts to be printed off for them all the time. Obviously, this has a positive financial implication for the school, despite the initial investment costs. 

Gemma Lightfoot, Specialist Teaching Assistant from Beverley school provided the following feedback about the C-Pen Reader

Describe your school: 

We're a special school in Middlesbrough for children with autism, who range from nursery age right through to sixth form age. 

Did you have the opportunity to trial the pen before purchase? 


During the trial what stuck you as a positive feature for your school to go ahead with an order? 

It gave targeted students more independence when it came to reading across a range of lessons. 

Which areas do you feel the use of the pen will impact upon for your school’s needs? 

It will impact more on older students who may have a greater need for reading support, whilst maintaining integrity, confidence and dignity. 

Have the students expressed any comments or thoughts on the Reader pen? 

Yes, a student in year 10 really enjoys using it in class and during his intervention time. 

Within the classroom environment have teaching and support staff noticed any positive outcomes for the students? 

Yes, a greater sense of independence as well as it being a kind of security/ safety blanket to fall back on. 

Would you recommend the pen to other colleagues? 


Any other comments you would like to add? 

The C-Pen has given our older students who struggle with reading due to a number of reasons, independence and confidence as well as a new found pleasure for reading. It is used for a number of reasons within school, to promote independence during lessons and as a security net within intervention time.