Talking Book Services

Talking Book Services

BARD (Braille Audio Reading Download)

BARD Frequently Asked Questions

What is BARD?
BARD is a free Braille and Audio Download service for active Talking Book Patrons with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The BARD Web site offers over 15,000 books and more than 40 magazine titles, and more books are added weekly.

How do I register?
Go to Application Instructions to apply for a BARD log in. You must be an active Talking Book Patron, and have an email address.

How do I get to the books and magazines?
Go to BARD Log In to browse and download books and magazines—you must have received your BARD log in to access this site—or browse and link through the main BARD (National Library Services) NLS catalog. You will also need high-speed Internet access for downloading.

What machines will play the downloaded books and magazines?
You cannot play downloaded BARD materials on your computer; you must use an authorized player.

If you have received your NLS Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM), either the Standard or the Advanced model, you can play BARD downloads on it.

There are also currently five commercial machines that play BARD downloads.  We do not sell or lend these, but they are listed here:
  • APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
  • HIMS BookSense
  • Humanware Victor Reader Stream
  • LevelStar Icon
  • PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1

What do I use to store the book or magazine?
When using the NLS Digital Book Player, you may store the book or magazine on an NLS-Flash blank cartridge or a USB flash drive. If using a commercial machine, check the documentation for the type of storage media to use.

What kind of Flash drive do I use?
Option 1: Use a blank NLS digital cartridge, 1G; holds approximately 92 hours of NLS books. It requires a cable to connect to your computer.

Advantages: Designed for the NLS player; fits in cartridge slot; easier to insert/remove from machine. The NLS-blank cartridges are available from the following commercial vendors:
  • American Printing House for the Blind, Inc
  • Perkins Products Adaptive Technology
Option 2: Flash drive (also called jump drive or thumb drive). Fits in the USB port on the side of the NLS machine. Some brands work better than others; look for those without built-in U3 software.  Brands we have found to work include: Dane Elec, Verbatim, Lexar, Sony, PNY, Kingston. Look for 1G to 8G of memory; those with more memory may not work.

Advantage: Available locally at most discount, electronic or department stores; can be found for $10-$15; available in larger sizes that hold more books

Can I store more than one book on the same cartridge, or flash drive?
Yes, you can access the Bookshelf feature on your NLS Digital Book Player by pressing and holding the Play/Stop key until it says “Bookshelf,” then using the fast-forward and rewind keys to move forward and backward between titles. When you reach the title you want, press Play.  

How do I download books or magazines from BARD?
Downloading from BARD requires some basic computer skills, including navigating the Web, filling out online forms, and downloading, unzipping, and transferring files. If you have experience with these processes, downloading from BARD is not difficult.

Since computer software and configuration vary widely, as well as any screen readers or other assistive technologies you may use, Talking Book Services staff can offer limited download support. You may fine it helpful to use your usual local technical supports, such as friends or family member, or other knowledgeable sources.

Where can I get help?

BARD-specific questions may be answered by the BARD online instructions and FAQs, or you may contact NLS at Specific questions about your commercial machine may be answered by your machine’s user guide or information provided on the manufacturer’s Web site. For specific questions about the NLS Digital Talking Book Machine, you can contact us at:

District of Columbia Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
901 G St. N.W.,  Room 215
Washington, DC  20017
Phone: 202-727-2142

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