National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) produces, acquires and offers audio and braille materials in languages other than English to eligible patrons. It also hosts a Spanish website.
International Language Collection
NLS acquires audio and braille titles in many international languages from various domestic and international producers, as well as from cooperating agencies around the world that serve people who cannot read standard print, primarily through the Marrakesh Treaty. Implemented in 2020, the Marrakesh Treaty provides for the exchange of accessible-format books across international borders by organizations that serve people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled. NLS has developed answers to frequently asked questions regarding participation in the Marrakesh Treaty.
New audio titles are made available in the NLS "talking book" format and can be accessed via the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service. To register for BARD, please contact your local network library or apply for BARD online. Many talking books are also distributed via cartridge. In addition, older analog titles are converted into digital format on an ongoing basis. Using the NLS Catalog and BARD, the NLS collections may be searched to find talking books in a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, German, and Russian. Though some languages are represented with only a few titles, the international language collections are constantly growing.
Most of NLS’s international language braille titles are available in hard copy, although digital braille content will be sourced via the Marrakesh Treaty, as available. The NLS Multistate Center East (MSCE) in Cincinnati, Ohio, houses the majority of international language braille collection with more than two thousand print braille books in languages other than English. For more information, contact your local network library.
In what languages are books available?
Books are available at NLS in the following languages:
- Central Khmer
- Greek, Ancient
Spanish language content produced by NLS
In the same way that NLS produces English language audio and braille books, Spanish language titles are produced and distributed through NLS network libraries. Approximately 750 titles are produced each year.
- An alphabetical listing of current Spanish language audio books can be browsed via the NLS Catalog.
- An alphabetical listing of current Spanish language braille books can be browsed via the NLS Catalog. Some hard-copy braille titles will need to be borrowed from the NLS Multistate Center East (MSCE) in Cincinnati, which network libraries can facilitate.
International Language Quarterly online
International Language Quarterly lists popular international language books recently added to the NLS collection and available through a network of cooperating libraries. Many titles come to NLS from other countries via the Marrakesh Treaty (DBGs), but patrons will also find books produced by NLS (DBs) and converted from cassette tapes (DBFs). All books listed in International Language Quarterly are available for immediate download from NLS BARD. To register for BARD, please contact your local network library or apply for BARD online.
Searching BARD for international language titles
BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service, provides instant access to thousands of books, magazines, and music scores. To register for BARD, please contact your local network library or apply for BARD online. There are three options to find books in particular languages on BARD:
- Choose your preferred languages by clicking the “language preference settings” link in the description under Search the Collection on the BARD home page or by going to “Account Settings” under “My BARD.” Click “Select this link to change your language preferences.” Check the boxes next to the language(s) in which you would like to read books. Click the “Update” button. Click “Back to BARD main page” to start searching for books in your preferred languages. NLS recommends this as the most efficient method. You can ask your local braille and talking-book library to update the preferred language setting in your account for you if necessary.
- To search by keyword for books in a particular language on BARD, you can enter your search term in the main “Search the collection” edit box, then choose the language from the preferred language dropdown menu/combo box and click “Go” to run the search.
- If you haven’t set your preferred languages or would like to find books in a language other than your preferred languages, you can also filter for books in a particular language while browsing, such as while looking at the “Recently added books and magazines” screen. You will find a “Filter by language” dropdown menu/combo box at the top of the screen. If you choose the language you have in mind from that list and click “Go,” you will see a list of applicable books in that language. This option will not appear if the page you are browsing only includes books in one language.
Searching by language in the NLS Catalog
Results can be limited to a particular language on the Keyword and Advanced search screens in the NLS Catalog by entering your search term, clicking the Add Limits button, choosing your desired language from the list under the Language heading, and clicking search.
- For example, if you were looking for Spanish books by Danielle Steel, you could go to nlscatalog.loc.gov, click Keyword search, enter Steel, Danielle in the search box, choose Author/Narrator as the type of search, then click add limits, choose Spanish from the language list, and click search.
- For example, if you were looking for the Bridgertons series in French, you could go to nlscatalog.loc.gov, click Advanced search, enter Bridgertons in the search box, choose Series (KSER) as the type of search, then click add limits, choose French from the language list, and click search.
Key to international-specific prefixes
BRE: Digital-only braille books in international languages and English, primarily obtained from other countries via TIGAR and the Accessible Books Consortium before the Marrakesh Treaty was implemented.
BRF: Hard-copy international language braille books held at the MultiState Center-East
BRG: Digital-only braille books in international languages and English obtained via the Marrakesh Treaty after implementation in 2020.
BRM: Braille music scores; includes some international language materials.
BRT: Braille music scores obtained via the Marrakesh Treaty after implementation in 2020; includes some international language materials.
DB: NLS-produced Digital Talking Books; while primarily English content, includes Spanish language books, and soon will include Chinese, Arabic, French, and several other languages.
DBC: Network-produced digital talking books; while primarily English content, includes some Spanish language titles.
DBF: Digital Talking Books in international languages and English obtained from other countries via TIGAR and the Accessible Books Consortium before the Marrakesh Treaty was implemented. Some were originally acquired as analog cassette tapes (RCFs), which are being converted to digital versions.
DBG: Digital Talking Books in international languages and English obtained via the Marrakesh Treaty after implementation in 2020.
RC: Talking books on analog cassette tapes that include English and Spanish language books and which have mostly been converted to DBs.
RCF: Talking books on analog cassette tapes in international languages and English that are being converted to digital talking books (DBFs).
Additional sources for accessible books
Collection of free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers; can be searched by language.
Website offering numerous audio and ebooks for download in English and other languages.
Audiobook subscription service, including international language titles, for persons with blindness and dyslexia.
Online source of ebooks available for free download in several languages. Audiobooks also available for download in English and a few other languages.
Multi-stakeholder partnership administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of publishers and agencies serving people with print disabilities around the world.
Global partnership of organizations committed to accessible publishing.
International body representing libraries serving people with print disabilities.
Organization representing over 285 million people who are blind or have a visual impairment around the globe.
Other international online resources
Braille translation tools and software. Includes contact information for braille producers outside the United States, by country.
Online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages; offers information on links to many websites about languages and language resources, including information on audio learning courses and online radio broadcast schedules.