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Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)

BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service, offers downloadable books and magazines for patrons who are unable to read regular print due to a visual, print, or physical disability. BARD is a service offered by the WTBBL and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress. The same materials offered on digital cartridge are also available for download in compressed audio or braille formats. With the BARD Mobile app, readers may download and play talking books on their smartphones and tablets. The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices delivers talking books and braille to your personal iPhone or iPad. A refreshable braille display with a Bluetooth connection is required to access Ebraille materials. The BARD Mobile app for Android delivers talking books to your Android smartphone or tablet from the Google Play store, including the Amazon Kindle Fire from the Amazon Appstore.

Instructions for Downloading Books from the National Library Service Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Site

To download books, you must have a high speed internet connection, an email address, and be comfortable using your computer.

First, you must have a talking book and braille library account. TBBL patrons can register for BARD at

Once you are registered, use these suggestions on how to download books:

Getting Started

To download books from the BARD site, borrowers need:

  • High-speed internet service
  • Ability to download and unzip files
  • An active email address
  • An NLS Digital Talking Book Player or a third-party player that is compatible with NLS downloadable books and magazines (a player like Apex BrailleNote/VoiceNote, APH Book Port Plus, or a Victor Reader Stream)

On the BARD site is a link to the online registration form. NLS will verify that the applicant is registered with an NLS-participating library. Readers will then receive the login information by email.

  • The login will be the email address used to start the account
  • A password will be assigned and will need to be changed the first time a new user logs in

Finding a Book

There are more than 100,000 audio books and 8,000 formatted e-braille files, and over 50 magazines available for download at the BARD site. Many searching methods are available, including by author, title, subject, narrator, and keyword. Avid readers might prefer to check the "Recently Added" link to find new titles.

Downloading a Book for Use on the NLS Player

Downloaded material will not play on a computer. However, users can copy the files to a USB flash drive and insert the drive in the USB port on the NLS player that is located next to the headphone jack port. You'll need to remove the tab cover. Ordinary USB flash drives (also known as "thumb drives" or "jump drives") will work with the NLS player. Blank cartridges are available to purchase from sources listed below.

Sources for Blank Cartridges and Cables

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH)
1839 Frankfort Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
(502) 895-2405
800-223-1839 (Toll-free customer service in the U.S. and Canada)

National Federation of the Blind
Independence Market
200 East Wells St. at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314, ext. 2216
(410) 685-2340 fax

Perkins Library
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 972-7240

Step-By-Step Instructions

Create a new folder on your hard drive called "NLS Downloads" or something similar.

Once you have found a book on BARD, look at the end of each book annotation for a link labeled "Download." Magazine issues do not have an annotation, and the screen will display only a link labeled "Download Magazine" for each issue.

  • Press enter on the "Download" link for the desired book or magazine issue
  • When asked whether to SAVE or OPEN, choose SAVE
  • Save the book to your chosen folder
  • The book will download. This may take a few minutes

Plug the flash drive or cartridge into your computer. You will need a USB cable to connect to the computer to the cartridge. Please contact us for a USB cable if you do not have one already. 

When the download is completed, right-click on the zipped folder, click on "Extract All," and then direct the unzipped files to the cartridge or flash drive. You can put more than one book on a flash drive.

Play the book by plugging the flash drive into the USB port in the side of the NLS player. The port is covered by a little plug, which you should not worry about losing.

Bookshelf Mode (Instructions for Reading Cartridges with Multiple Books)

  • Press the Play/Stop button on the Digital Player for three seconds to open the Bookshelf
  • You move from book to book on the Bookshelf by using the Rewind and Fast Forward buttons
  • Then press the Play/Stop button to listen to the chosen book

Helpful Tips

The NLS provides numerous instructional videos on how to use resources, such as BARD, offered by WTBBL. Below are a few links to various YouTube videos on using BARD Mobile.

How to Use BARD Mobile for iOS

How to Use BARD Mobile for Android

You can also access the manual for BARD Mobile:

How to Use BARD Mobile for iOS

How to Use BARD Mobile for Android

How to Use BARD Kindle Fire

Another helpful YouTube series on using the HumanWare eReader:

NLS eReader HumanWare How-To Series

BARD Express

PC users may also want to utilize BARD Express to make searching and downloading easier. Use BARD Express to browse thousands of audio books and magazines, download them to your Windows-based computer, and transfer them to an NLS cartridge. BARD Express simplifies the process by providing a menu-driven interface, reducing the need to memorize a complex set of keyboard commands. What does this mean? BARD Express can be used with as few as four keys, while providing advanced functionality for the more adventurous user.

Learn more about BARD Express by checking out the Frequently Asked Questions about BARD Express or by browsing the BARD Express User Guide.

Download BARD Express. After saving it to your computer, locate the file and open it. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.

Helpful Tips

The NLS provides numerous instructional videos on how to use resources, such as BARD, offered by WTBBL. Below is a link to a YouTube video series on using BARD Express.

BARD Express: How-To Series


If you should have any questions about BARD or your talking book library service, please call us at 1-800-242-8822, Monday through Friday, or send an email to

For questions about this information, contact Zarina Mohd Shah (414) 286-3045