FRANKFORT, Ky. (10/2/13) – Kentuckians who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability may now download audio and braille books to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. They must first be registered with the Kentucky Talking Book Library to receive this free library service provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress.
The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Mobile app is now available through the Apple App Store. The app, which is free, allows readers to download audio and braille books from an NLS BARD account. Access to BARD is provided through the Kentucky Talking Book Library and similar libraries within the NLS network. BARD contains nearly 50,000 books, magazines and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily.
“We are excited about the opportunity BARD Mobile brings to our users,” said Barbara Penegor, branch manager at the Kentucky Talking Book Library, “but we are not as excited as they are. The app just became available last Friday, and 77 patrons have already downloaded it.”
NLS Director Karen Keninger said, “The BARD Mobile app allows searching, downloading and reading braille and talking books and magazines on one fully accessible, mainstream device. It’s a library in your pocket.”
She explained, “With BARD Mobile, patrons can play talking books and magazines on their iOS devices. Patrons may also read electronic braille books, magazines and music scores using a refreshable braille display connected to their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch through Bluetooth.”
Patrons will be able to receive their reading materials faster and won’t have to be weighted down with bulky volumes or playback equipment.
NLS has provided free library service for people who have visual disabilities for more than 80 years and for people with physical disabilities since 1966. Best known as the talking book program, NLS upgraded its analog program to digital format in 2009.
“Audiobooks are provided on cartridges for use with digital playback equipment that provides high-level navigation capability, high-quality sound and other features, which are provided without cost to the reader,” Keninger said. “Around the same time, NLS launched BARD, which permitted patrons who had access to high-speed Internet to download their audiobooks, as braille readers had been doing with the Web-Braille system since 1999. BARD now merges the two systems.
“BARD Mobile is another benchmark in our use of technology to enhance the delivery and reading experience of NLS patrons,” Keninger said. “NLS developed the BARD Mobile app in response to demand from our borrowers. Blind and disabled Americans are as keen as everyone else to use mobile devices. Our younger patrons are particularly eager to use the same gadgets as their peers.”
NLS is also working on an app for Android devices.
Patrons Jenny Tyree and Melanie Peskoe were among the first Kentucky users to download and use the new app.
“The only thing I can say is that I love it,” said Tyree. “It is great and makes my life so much easier to have one device for all my reading needs.”
Peskoe added, “I’m ecstatic about the development of this application for mobile use. Now I can have one device that will truly do it all. The new BARD app gives me the freedom to read books anywhere at any time and not be bogged down by having to carry extra equipment. It is user friendly and full of great features.”
BARD Mobile will make reading not only more accessible but more portable.
“We anticipate that significant numbers of readers will adopt the app as their primary reading device,” Keninger said. “As a growing percentage of blind and disabled Americans adopt mobile devices, the app will provide a highly valued avenue to NLS materials.”
Eligible users in Kentucky may find the free braille and talking-book program even more attractive with the release of this app. Those who do not have an iOS device or computer can receive reading material through the mail.
Information provided by Cathy Lindsey
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