June 18, 2015 Library Braille and Talking Book Program Releases App for Android Devices

Contact: Jane Caulton (202) 707-0521

People who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability may now download talking books to their Android phone or tablet, if they are registered with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the Library of Congress.

The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Mobile app is now available through Google Play for devices running Android OS 4.1 or later. The free app allows readers to download talking books from their NLS BARD accounts. Access to BARD is provided through local cooperating libraries. BARD contains nearly 65,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily.

“The BARD Mobile app allows searching, downloading, and reading books and magazines on one fully accessible, mainstream device,” NLS director Karen Keninger said. “It’s a library in your pocket.” NLS released a BARD Mobile app for iOS devices in 2013. The addition of an Android app “will give on-the-go access to an even larger number of patrons,” Keninger said.

NLS has provided free library service for people who have visual disabilities for more than 80 years and for people with physical disabilities since 1966. Best known as the braille and talking-book program, NLS upgraded its analog program to digital in 2009.

“Audiobooks are provided on cartridges for use with digital playback equipment that provides high-level navigation capability, high-quality sound and other features, which are provided without cost to the reader,” Keninger said. Around the same time that it transitioned to digital books, NLS launched BARD, which permitted patrons who had access to high-speed Internet to download their talking books. Now BARD Mobile allows patrons to receive their reading materials even faster, without the need for bulky playback equipment.

“BARD Mobile for Android continues our efforts to enhance the delivery and reading experience of NLS patrons,” Keninger said. “Our iOS app has been very popular, with more than 36,000 mobile devices registered to use it. In the past year, demand for an Android version has increased dramatically. We’re pleased to be able to meet the needs of the growing number of our patrons who use Android mobile devices.”

NLS, which is part of the Library of Congress, administers the braille and talking-book program, a free library service available to residents of the United States and its territories and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness or physical disability makes reading regular print difficult. Through its national network of cooperating libraries, NLS mails digital audio players and books and magazines—in audio and in braille—directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are available in large-print, braille, and recorded formats. Select materials are also available online for download. To learn more, call 1-888-NLS-READ or visit www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 15-098
ISSN 0731-3527