Library of Congress Announces New Mobile App for Braille and Audio Books

By Renee Dopplick, ACM Director of Public Policy
September 24, 2013

The Library of Congress announced today that its Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) system is going mobile with an app for Apple devices now available for download and a forthcoming Android app in development. These mobile apps will allow the 800,000+ institutional and individual users registered with its National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) to access audio and braille books and magazines, as well as music, on their mobile devices.

The Library of Congress anticipates a “surge of downloading” with the introduction of these mobile apps because many NLS users with smartphones have requested access through mobile apps. The Library of Congress also anticipates a surge in demand based on the proliferation and availability of mobile devices for consumers that offer relatively high functionality and built-in accessibility at relatively low costs. To help entice users to make the switch to digital downloads, the Library of Congress continues to add new content daily to BARD’s expanding repository. Currently among the 50,000 digital items is a large searchable collection of Web-Braille books for users with a refreshable braille display.

Eventually, the Library of Congress expects digital distribution to replace its cassette-based audio books, which have been used for more than 35 years but ceased production three years ago in the switch to digital formats. Production of the “obsolete” cassette machines for reading the cassettes ended six years ago.

The Library of Congress told Congress last year that 85 percent of NLS users still rely on door-to-door mail delivery of cassette books and digital talking-books on cartridges and NLS-provided machinery to play them.

For more information about the new BARD mobile app for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, read today’s Library of Congress press release.

For more information about the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) provided by the Library of Congress, visit