National Library Service’s BARD iOS App

National Library Service’s BARD iOS App

BARD Mobile AppBy Matthew Bullis
Near the same time iOS7 was released, the National Library Service released its talking book reading app–BARD–for the line of i-devices. 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 player. Now it is possible (once you sign up for an account) to access content solely through the iPhone. Everything provided through this interface is free, and the app 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 blind 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 a connectable 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. This first version is quite robust and the NLS team are committed to making sure that problems are fixed, and that updates are forthcoming.

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