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Braille Information

NLS offers a variety of braille materials in hard copy by mail and by download. The collection includes a variety of book titles and magazines. Music appreciation and instructional materials are also available. Registered borrowers learn of books added to the NLS braille collection through a bimonthly publication, Braille Book Review. This publication, like the braille books, is sent by postage-free mail. Users also may search the online catalog, Voyager, to locate braille materials.

Users may download books and magazines via the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service on the Internet. With the BARD Mobile app, readers may access braille titles using a braille display with a Bluetooth connection.

NLS provides braille certifications, which is required to transcribe books in braille for the Library of Congress. Operating through a contractor, the program offers certifications in UEB, mathematics and technical areas, and music as well as proofreading certifications for each of these.

Unified English Braille

As of January 2016, all NLS braille materials will be produced in Unified English Braille UEB. UEB is an updated braille code being used by all English speaking countries. This code removes 9 braille contractions, adds several new punctuation symbols, and simplifies some rules to enable more accurate automated braille translation and back translation.

Frequently used UEB Symbols [braille (.BRF)]

Provides a list of the most common new UEB symbols arranged by category

Music Materials

Patrons may access a collection of braille, large-print, and recorded instructional materials about music and musicians. They may also obtain free subscriptions to magazines produced in audio, braille, and large print. All materials are circulated postage free, and some digital audio and e-braille materials are available for download over the Internet. Machines needed to use the audio cartridges are provided to eligible users without charge. Musical recordings intended solely for listening are not included in the music collection as they are readily available commercially and from public libraries.

The Library of Congress-certified braille music transcribers are willing to braille music materials for individuals. All arrangements for transcribing, including financial, must be made between the transcriber and the braille reader. Upon receipt of the braille, an acknowledgment from the reader expressing appreciation is always appropriate.

Braille Basics and Literacy

The Braille Alphabet  provides a brief explanation of the braille reading and writing system and contains a tactile representation of the braille alphabet.

Facts: About Braille includes a more detailed description of braille, its history, the structure of the braille alphabet, and information on how braille is produced.

Braille Literacy: Resources for Learning and Reading lists resources to assist sighted individuals who are interested in learning braille or want to transcribe print materials into braille, instructors who teach braille, persons with visual impairments who are interested in learning to read and write braille, and family members, friends, and professionals who desire information about braille literacy. This document also includes information on sources of braille code books, braille translation software, and other resources to assist with the production of braille. It is also available in ebraille, Braille Literacy: Resources for Learning and Reading (2018), Part 1 [ebraille (BRF)], Braille Literacy: Resources for Learning and Reading (2018), Part 2 [ebraille (BRF)].

Find a Transcriber with the Directory of Producers of Accessible Reading Materials, which lists volunteer groups, individual transcribers, and nonprofit and commercial organizations who produce braille, recorded, and large-print material for readers who are visually and physically handicapped.

Print and embossed copies are also available. Request more information about Braille.

Download Braille Materials

Learn how to access braille materials online.

The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) is a web-based service that provides access to thousands of braille and encrypted audio books, magazines, and music scores available from NLS. The service is available to registered users of the braille and talking book program through their local braille and talking book library.

Braille books and magazines may be also downloaded through the BARD Mobile app, which requires connection to a refreshable braille display via a Bluetooth connection. The BARD website and mobile app are password-protected, and all files are in an electronically downloadable form of compressed audio or formatted braille. BARD is available to registered users of NLS through their local braille and talking book library.

Braille Transcription and Certification

Learn how to become a certified braille transcriber

Information for Prospective Braille Transcribers

NLS has awarded a contract to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to conduct NLS braille certification programs. The Librarian of Congress and the NLS director will continue to authorize and issue certifications for braille transcribers and proofreaders. Current training is provided in Unified English Braille (UEB). Braille transcribers certified before 2016 may contact Jennifer Dunnam to start the process to earn a UEB Letter of Proficiency to bring their previous certification current.

All inquiries related to the literary, mathematics, and music transcribing and proofreading courses should be addressed to:

Jennifer Dunnam
Manager of Braille Programs, Jernigan Institute
National Federation of The Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (612) 767-5658
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.nfb.org/transcribers

Information for Students and Teachers

Learn what benefits NLS offers for student braille readers

NLS supports braille literacy and offers eligible preschool to adult students a variety of recreational reading materials. Students who are blind, have low vision, or have difficulty reading printed materials because of a physical disability will find the braille and talking book program an incredible resource.

Braille and talking books allow students to read many of the same books that their peers are reading. Whether they want to read the latest bestseller or that classic needed for a classroom assignment, their local network library can help; materials are sent and returned by postage-free mail.

Participants in the program also may download braille and audiobooks through BARD (the Braille and Audio Reading Download online service) or through the BARD Mobile app for iOS and Android devices. For braille books, a device with a Bluetooth connection to a refreshable braille device is necessary.

Braille Publications

Explore publications available in braille, about braille, and by braille providers. Magazines in Special Media is a descriptive listing of periodicals and newsletters available to people in the United States who are unable to use regular print materials. Periodicals are produced in a variety of formats, including press braille and ebraille, as well as digital audio, digital download, digital text, and large print. Not all periodicals are offered in all formats.

Braille Magazines available through NLS

The following is a list of braille magazines in the Library of Congress program. Readers may obtain free personal subscriptions to these magazines. For information on the availability of specific magazines, consult the library that sends you braille materials.

Braille Magazines

The following is a list of braille magazines in the Library of Congress program. Readers may obtain free personal subscriptions to these magazines. For information on the availability of specific magazines, consult the library that sends you braille materials. For a list of magazines produced in a variety of formats, please visit Magazines in Special Media.

Boys’ Life (for children and teens, monthly)

Braille Book Review (6 issues)

Braille Chess Magazine (British quarterly)

Braille Music Magazine (British monthly)

Catster (6 issues)

Conundrum (British monthly)

Cooks Illustrated (6 issues)

Eating Well (10 issues)

ESPN: The Magazine (16 issues)

Harper’s (literary; monthly)

Health Newsletters (includes Harvard Health Letter, Mayo Clinic Health Letter, and Berkeley Wellness Letter; monthly)

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine (monthly)

Martha Stewart Living (home and entertaining; 10 issues)

Muse (for children; 9 issues)

The Musical Mainstream (NLS quarterly)

National Geographic (6 issues)

News (NLS quarterly)

The New York Times Book Review (weekly)

The New York Times Large Print Weekly (weekly)

O (Oprah) (monthly)

Parents (monthly)

PC World (personal computing; monthly)

Playboy (6 issues)

Poetry (11 issues)

Popular Mechanics (10 issues)

Popular Music Lead Sheets (irregular)

Popular Science (4 issues)

Rolling Stone (popular culture; 12 issues)

Science News (24 issues)

Seventeen (for teens, 6 issues)

Short Stories (British monthly)

Spider: The Magazine for Children (9 issues)

Stone Soup (children’s writings; 11 issues)

Sports League Schedules

Major League Baseball Combined Schedule by date

National Basketball Association

National Football League

National Hockey League

Women’s National Basketball Association

Resources about Braille

Braille Alphabet Card (electronic representation) provides a brief explanation of the braille reading and writing system and contains a tactile representation of the braille alphabet.

Facts: About Braille includes a more detailed description of braille, its history, the structure of the braille alphabet, and information on how braille is produced.

Frequently Used Unified English Braille Symbols provides a list of the most common new UEB symbols arranged by category

Uncontracted Braille minibibliography that presents the English-language uncontracted braille titles produced by NLS. Included are numerous short works—like Flash Fiction, a collection of very short stories, none more than 750 words—and anthologies of myths and legends, novels, nonfiction, and children’s books.

Braille Displays and Notetakers discusses devices used to access and represent information in braille, and provides a list of available models. It also lists the sources to purchase these items and a selection of references and resources on the subject. Also available in ebraille, Braille Displays and Notetakers (2018) [ebraille (.brf)].

Braille Embossers (2018) provides an alphabetical list of braille embossers and the vendors that offer them. It also discusses specialized braille paper, braille translation software, and sources to purchase these items. A selection of references and resources is provided as well. It is also available in ebraille, Braille Embossers (2018) [ebraille (BRF)].

Find a Transcriber with the Directory of Producers of Accessible Reading Materials, which lists volunteer groups, individual transcribers, and nonprofit and commercial organizations who produce braille, recorded, and large-print material for readers who are visually and physically handicapped.