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for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Receives New Software for Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Service

Date: 12/21/2016

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, has accepted the donation of "BARD Express," a Windows-based software program that will aid in the use of the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service. The free software will be available to patrons of the NLS program in December 2016.

"BARD Express will make browsing BARD audio materials, downloading titles, and transferring them to a cartridge or USB drive much easier for patrons using a PC." said NLS director Karen Keninger. "We hope it will make the thousands of books available on BARD readily accessible to more patrons."

BARD Express was the brainchild of Kirk Saathoff, a software developer whose wife and son are patrons of the NLS braille and talking book program and frequent users of BARD. "For years, I watched my wife sometimes become a bit annoyed with her computer, and I know [most] software is designed without regard for people with disabilities," Saathoff said. "My hope in developing this software was that it would allow more people to enjoy books while minimizing the time and frustration involved in accessing them."

BARD Express manages audio materials that users download to their computer and categorizes the materials by books, magazines, read items, and unread items for easy sorting. The program also simplifies downloading and transferring talking books to a cartridge or USB drive by providing a button that unzips and transfers the files to an external storage device. It also provides device management options from the main menu.

Don Olson, BARD operations manager at NLS said, "BARD Express enables NLS patrons to more easily unzip the books they download from BARD. Gone are the days of having to carry out multiple file management steps in order to place a book or magazine on an NLS cartridge or a USB drive."

Olson explained that BARD Express "provides step-by-step menus to more easily move books from a PC to a patron's device of choice." The program will simplify searching for titles on BARD by presenting various searching and browsing options from the main menu, such as search by series, search by keyword, browse the recently added and most popular lists, and browse the magazine collection."

According to Olson, NLS plans to release the software, along with support resources—such as a BARD Express "how-to" video series, Frequently Asked Questions about BARD Express, and a Getting Started Guide for supporting library staff in the network of cooperating libraries. A link to the download site for the new free, software will be provided on BARD in December 2016.


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