BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a website created by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) where registered users can download digital Talking Books and periodicals.
Once downloaded to a computer, the DAISY audio files can be transferred to a cartridge and played on an NLS-supplied Talking Book player, or a supported player such as the Victor Reader Stream.
The BARD collection has over 20,000 books on a wide range of subjects, including: bestsellers, classics, history, music, mystery and detective, short stories, travel, and young adult.
The collection also includes popular periodicals, including: the Atlantic Monthly, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, People, Smithsonian, and Sports Illustrated.
BARD Eligibility and Requirements
To access materials from the BARD website, one must be registered and receiving services from an NLS network library -- a process that requires a separate application.
NOTE: The application process is designed to restrict access to copyrighted materials to persons with print disabilities, such as blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or mobility limitations -- conditions applicants must document.
In addition to NLS registration, BARD website, you will also need:
- An NLS digital talking book player or NLS-compatible machine
- A blank NLS cartridge and USB cable cable
- A computer with high-speed Internet connection
- An email address
Blank NLS cartridges and USB cables are available from many sources, including Perkins Products and the American Printing House for the Blind(APH).
Applying for BARD Access
To access BARD materials, you fill out an online application that includes your name, address, state of residence (to verify NLS registration), and type of player you wish to use to listen to books.
The NLS processes BARD access requests and responds via email, usually within two business days.
Once you are approved, NLS sends an email that includes a login (usually your email address), a one-time password, and instructions for using the BARD site.
During your first login, you will be prompted to create a new password. Valid passwords must have at least eight characters, at least one letter, one number, no repeated characters, no common words, neither your first nor last name, and not be a previously used password.
You then must read the terms of the BARD user pledge and click "I Accept." Following this, you will be taken to the BARD main page.
Downloading BARD Books
BARD's main page displays links to "Recently added" and "Most popular" books and provides options for searching the collection.
You can search for books by keyword, alphabetically by author's last name or title, or by subject. Separate links enable users to search BARD's Foreign Language Collection and periodicals.
BARD search results display a brief annotation of the and a link you can click on to download the title to your computer.
To download a title, click its link, choose "Save" in the dialogue box, and click "OK."
A file with the book or periodical title will then download to the location you designate.
BARD content cannot be played directly on your computer.
The encrypted files must be copied to either a blank NLS digital Talking Book cartridge, flash drive, or audio player -- all of which you connect to your PC or Mac via a USB port.
Once copied, the book file then must be extracted from the other files in the folder. Once this is don, you can transfer the file and listen to it on your your digital player.
Authorizing non-NLS Digital Players
Once you're an approved BARD borrower, you can get authorization to play books on non-NLS machines, such as the Victor Reader Stream and APH's Book Port DT.
To do this, let NLS know which device you intend to use. NLS will contact the manufacturer, who will email you to obtain your device's serial number and prompt you to complete an online form.
Device authorization consists of an email with an attached file containing an authorization key. That email will contain instructions informing you how to process the key file on your device. You must provide us with an email address that is capable of receiving attached files.