We hear the term OCR all the time, when we talk about accessibility, but what does it really mean?
Optical character recognition (OCR) is the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. It is widely used as a form of data entry from printed paper documents. It is a common method of digitizing printed texts so that it can be electronically edited, searched, stored more compactly, displayed on-line, and used in machine processes such as machine translation, text-to-speech, key data and text mining. OCR is a field of research in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and computer vision.
Early versions needed to be trained with images of each character, and worked on one font at a time. Advanced systems that have a high degree of recognition accuracy for most fonts are now common. Some systems are capable of reproducing formatted output that closely approximates the original page including images, columns, and other non-textual components.