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Aging and Disability

Aging and Disability Resources Last Updated: Feb 9, 2024 4:48 PM

Braille and Audio Reading Download

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled offers a free Braille and Audio Reading Download Program (BARD) for Talking Book customers. Eligible customers can download books and magazines from an extensive collection of titles.

Getting started:

To download books from the BARD site, the customer needs:

  • High-speed Internet service.
  • E-mail address.
  • NLS Digital Talking Book Player or another player capable of playing NLS-produced digital talking books.
  • Ability to download and unzip files to a removable storage device (a blank cartridge or flash drive).

How do I register?

  1. Go to BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Downloadable Books and Magazines (
  2. Click on BARD application instructions.
  3. Click on Link to BARD application for individuals.
  4. Select VA - Fairfax County Public Library, Access Services.
  5. Complete each field as instructed. Submit the application.
  6. If you are approved to participate you will receive an e-mail message with sign-on information. If there is a problem, your library will send an email explaining the problem.

How do I search the collection?

  • Books and magazines are available for download on the BARD site.
  • You can also browse the collection through the NLS catalog.
  • Enter your e-mail address and password to log in.
  • Books can be searched by author, title, subject, narrator and keyword. Links to Recently Added Books and Most Popular Books are also posted on this page.

How do I download books or magazines?

  1. Connect your removable storage device (a blank cartridge or flash drive) to your computer.
  2. Create a new folder on your removable storage device to download books from the BARD site.
  3. Once you find the book, click on the Download link at the end of each book annotation.
  4. Magazine issues have a link labeled Download Magazine for each issue.
  5. A window will appear with the option to Open or Save the file. Select Save.
  6. Save the book/magazine in the new folder on your storage device.
  7. Depending on the size of the file and your internet connection, the download process may take several minutes.
  8. When the download is completed, locate the zipped folder on your storage device and right click to extract the zipped files from the folder.
  9. Insert the cartridge in the player and press play. If you are using a flash drive, insert it in the USB port on the side of the player. Press play.

How do I unzip my file?

There are several ways to unzip your file. It depends on your operating system software. We have listed a couple of ways a file can be unzipped.

These instructions may work with Microsoft Vista operating system:

  1. To unzip the file, locate the downloaded book or magazine in the directory or folder in which it was saved, (My Documents, Desktop or your removable storage device).
  2. Select the zipped file, press Enter. In the resulting dialog box, select all the files using the “Select all” command or by pressing “Control” + “A."
  3. Open the blank destination cartridge drive. The letter assigned to this drive will vary by computer.
  4. Paste all of the selected files using the “Paste” command or by pressing “Control” + “V."

Another way of extracting files in Microsoft Vista operating system:

  1. To unzip the files, right-click on the zip file or select the file and then open a context menu by pressing the “Applications” key, which is usually located to the left of the right-hand “Control” key. You can also use “Shift” + “F10."
  2. The context menu will be displayed. Select the option to “Extract all files." An extraction wizard dialog box will open. Select the “Next” button to begin extracting the files that comprise the book or magazine.
  3. The wizard will ask into which folder to extract the files. By default, a sub folder with the same name as the book or magazine, will be created within the folder to which the digital talking book was downloaded. Press the “Next” button to accept this choice or use the “Browse” button to find another location on the computer for the book or magazine’s folder.

These instructions may work with Microsoft XP operating system:

  1. To unzip the files, right click on the zip file.
  2. Select WinZip.
  3. Click on “extract to folder."

Can I store more than one book on the same cartridge or flash drive?

  • Yes, you can. Create a separate folder for each book in your storage device. To enter bookshelf mode on your NLS player, hold down the "play" button until you hear the player go into bookshelf mode. Release the play button. Now you can use the arrows at each end of the play button to move to the books that are available. When you hear the title you wish to read, simply hit the play button.
  • Depending on the size of the cartridge or flash drive, several books can be stored on a single cartridge or flash drive. A 1 GB cartridge will hold about 92 hours of narration.

Where can I get help?

Cartridge and Flash Drive Purchase Information

  • The American Printing House for the Blind sells digital talking-book cartridges, designed to be used with the NLS digital-talking book machine. To place an order, contact the American Printing House for the Blind at or 1-800-223-1839. Customer service questions may be sent by e-mail to
  • Adaptive Technology, a division of Perkins Products of the Perkins School for the Blind, sells digital talking-book cartridges and compatible USB cables designed to be used with NLS digital talking-book machines. To place an order call 978-462-3817 or email
  • Flash Drive
    Standard USB flash drives (also called thumb drives or jump drives) are available at most large retail stores or electronics stores.
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