Written by: Matthew Bullis


The National Library Service released its talking book reading app several years ago, initially for the line of i-devices from Apple, but have since expanded to include Android and Kindle. BARD stands for Braille and Audio Reading Download. Prior to this application’s release, users of the digital talking book program had to order cartridges through the mail, or download desired books from the BARD site to thumb drives for use in the digital library player.

Now it is possible, once you sign up for a BARD account, to access content solely through the app. Everything provided through this interface is free, and is well-designed. Because of the population it serves, which is U.S. visually-impaired residents, there is an extensive help file which is always accessible from within the app. It’s recommended that users read this through, as they may learn tips and tricks for a better experience. More talking books are being added daily, both new titles, as well as older conversions from cassettes.

These books are unique to the blindness population, as many of the narrators read exclusively for the talking book program. Since contracted braille files (instead of “letter-for-letter” uncontracted braille) are also part of the collection, users with an electronic braille display can enjoy these titles as well. VoiceOver cannot read contracted braille, so users without a display will be limited to the talking books.

For those who have not investigated the library’s’ offerings, start the conversation by giving the library in Phoenix a call at 602-255-5578.