The BARD – Braille and Audio Reading Download – program is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped's free digital book download service. More than 21,000 digital books and over 40 digital magazine titles are available in BARD with new items added weekly.
To qualify for BARD, you must first have active TBBL library service, be in good standing, have an e-mail address, and a high-speed Internet connection. Downloading books or magazines from BARD also requires some computer expertise.
To register for BARD, you must first fill out the BARD Application Instructions.
You cannot play downloaded BARD materials on your computer. You must use an authorized player. If you received your NLS Digital Talking Book Machine, either the Standard or the Advanced model, you can play BARD downloads on it. There are also currently five commercial machines that are able to play BARD downloads. TBBL does not sell or loan commercial machines.
Depending on which machine you are using, you may store a book or magazine on a digital cartridge or a USB flash drive. If you are using the NLS Digital Talking Book Machine, then use either an NLS-type digital cartridge or a standard USB flash drive (also called thumb drive or jump drive). If using a commercial machine, check the documentation to see which option is best. TBBL does not supply any of these storage media; you will need to purchase them yourself.
The BARD Mobile APP is available for download to iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod. Click here to for a Quick Guide the BARD Mobile APP.
NLS compatible digital talking-book players for purchase include:
APH Book Port Plus
APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
HIMS BookSense DS
HIMS BookSense XT
HIMS Sense Notetakers (includes Braille Sense and Voice Sense)
Humanware Victor Reader Stratus
Humanware Victor Reader Stream
Plextalk Pocket PTP1
BARD Mobile will work on any iOS device running iOS 4.3.3 or later. This includes the iPhone 3GS and all later iPhones, all iPads, and fourth generation or later iPod touches. If you have one of these devices, be sure it is running iOS 4.3.3 or later.
You can't use a temporary password when logging onto BARD from the app, so be sure you have a working BARD username and permanent password before you attempt to log in with BARD Mobile. The app also will not work if you need to agree to the BARD pledge. If you have a temporary password, log into the BARD website at https://nlsbard.loc.gov to create a new password. And even if you have a working password, it's a good idea to log into the website and take the pledge if requested. Note that you can log into the BARD website using Safari on an iOS device if you like.
The BARD Mobile app allows you to download items from the Recently Added Books and Recently Added Magazines sections of the BARD site and from your wish list. So if there are books you know you're going to want to read right away, add them to your wish list. It is also easy to add books to your wish list from within BARD Mobile because when you browse the site either from within the app or from Safari on your iOS device, the Download link following every book title changes to an Add to Wish List link.
BARD Mobile must be open while books are downloading; if you switch to a different app, downloading will stop. Also, the screen must be unlocked throughout the download process.
We encourage you to take a look at the BARD Mobile user guide. You can find it at https://nlsbard.loc.gov/apidocs/BARDMobile.userguide.iOS.1.0.html.
The manual is also available in the app, in the Help section of the BARD Mobile bookshelf.
If you want to read braille books with BARD Mobile, you'll need a braille display. Be sure to read Section 7 of the user guide, as it explains how to configure your display and provides keystrokes that make reading braille a smooth experience.
If you have BARD books or magazines on your computer, you can use iTunes file sharing or Dropbox to load them into BARD Mobile. Load them as zip files; BARD Mobile will unpack them automatically. When you open a talking book or magazine that you have loaded in this way for the first time, be sure BARD Mobile has access to the Internet, as the app will need to download an authorization file from the BARD website. This step is not necessary for braille files.