BARD Mobile

Last modified
Friday, January 15, 2021

Description of App

CARRY A LIBRARY IN YOUR POCKET Access tens of thousands of books—from current best sellers to much-loved classics, popular magazines, and music instruction and scores in audio and electronic braille formats, with new selections added daily. HOW DO I GET STARTED? This app allows access for eligible users who have enrolled in the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) at the Library of Congress. To enroll call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) and follow the prompts for your state. You can also request enrollment information at If you are already registered for NLS service, contact your cooperating NLS library to request your BARD account. You can find your library by visiting WHO IS ELIGIBLE? BARD Mobile is a service of NLS. NLS provides free audio and braille reading materials to residents of the United States and American citizens living abroad who cannot read standard print. If you are blind or have temporary or permanent low vision or a disability that prevents you from reading or holding the printed page, you may be eligible for this program. For more information on eligibility, visit or contact your cooperating network library. WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED? Audio materials downloaded from BARD can be played directly on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. To read braille materials, you will need to connect a refreshable braille display to your device using Bluetooth.



Free or Paid


Apple Watch Support


iOS Version


Device(s) App Was Tested On


Accessibility Comments

This app is wonderfully easy to use. All you do for example for yoru wish list if you have books there is double tap the book and when it is done downloading you will hear a door bell like sound telling you the downloading of your book is done. I have not tried the itunes method yet but will get around to it.

VoiceOver Performance

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling

All buttons are clearly labeled.


The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Other Comments

The app seems to work well with iOs 9 but watch you registrations and the number of books you have. You are limited to 100 a month and for some reason when you remove a book it does not take that registration away. The only way to fix is to reinstall the app and redownload your books or et them in to the app via dropbox or file browser.

Developer's Twitter Username



28 people have recommended this app

Most recently recommended by Michael Hansen 2 months 1 week ago



Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Friday, September 20, 2013

I've been waiting for this app for years now, and it's just as amazing as I had hoped it would be. It has an inbuilt web browser so you can download the books right to the phone. No messing with iTunes, no hastle, just awesome. If anybody here represents or works for the nls or this dev team, thanks for all your hard work. You have delivered us an amazing experience with this app. I would encourage anybody who has an extra 2 minutes to either write an app store review, or email to the nls letting them know your thoughts. This app has added functionality to my iphone that is simply, and I cannot put too fine a point on this, amazing. As much as I love and have used my nls player, it does tend to be a bit bulky, and can't fit in a pocket. To have such a huge portion of my library right in my pocket makes the iphone as good as any e reader out there. This is awesome, and I am extremely greatful to the nls for this great app!!!

Submitted by Ali Gamez on Friday, September 20, 2013

In reply to by Unregistered User (not verified)

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!! I've been waiting for this app since I heard it was going to be developed and I cannot tell you how happy I am it's finally here! Most of the reading I do is with BARD, and it is just awesome that I can now read from my phone.

Submitted by Jen on Saturday, September 21, 2013

I am loving everything about this app. It's been a long time coming, but the wait really has paid off. Fantastic app!

Submitted by Eileen on Saturday, September 21, 2013

Great app, , so convenient to get books, and Yay I won't have to buy another expensive device to have NLS books on the go! Love NLS Bard the books are great and now getting a book is easier than going to a public library! smile

Submitted by Lynne on Saturday, September 21, 2013

this is a brilliant app. Kudos to the NLS Team! Only one thing---wish it had a sleep timer. It really was worth the wait. Perhaps it does and I just haven't found it.

Submitted by Kyle on Saturday, September 21, 2013

if the devs are on here, do we know if or when there is going to be a bard app for android? i'd much rather download stuff on my 32 gb nexus than my 16 gb iphone.

Submitted by Travis on Saturday, September 21, 2013

In reply to by Lynne

There is no sleep timer. However, if you go to your clock app, you can set a timer. If you set that timer's sound to "Stop Playing," the setting at the bottom of the sounds list, you will effectively have a sleep timer for whatever duration you want. Once you have the setting for the timer as stop playing, you can even have Siri turn on the timer for you.

Submitted by Travis on Saturday, September 21, 2013

I have had a few books that I have tried to download give me an error that the file failed to extract. Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on fixing that problem?

Not yet but some of the ones I zipped from my flash drive and i put on there say that I"m not authorised to play this book. I'm a bit confused by this. Oh no, I know that that means, I just want to know why. Over all the app is very very good.

Submitted by Tristan on Sunday, September 22, 2013

This is a brilliant app. A real thumbs up to the developers at NLS who put work into this -- it's a true modernized facsimile of the NLS digital players! One problem I have had is that even with "Background Playback" toggled to on in audio settings, I still can't use a two finger double tap gesture to pause and play the active book. If I do a two finger double tap, or simply press the center button on a set of earpods, the book stops playing and is replaced by my music. I have to then go back into the BARD app to restart the book. The two finger double tap also doesn't seem to work inside the actual app itself. Anyone else encountering this? I'm on an iPhone 5 running iOS 7.

Submitted by Travis on Sunday, September 22, 2013

In reply to by Unregistered User (not verified)

I have had the 2 finger double-tap problem where the app playes my music and kicks me out. However, I have had this problem with iCatcher, as podcast app, as well. For me, it is not a problem I can make happen 100% of the time.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, September 23, 2013

Tapping on the agree button to accept the license terms did not work at first; had to split-tap after locating the button manually (without flicking.) Probably just a small VO bug. Only usable for U.S. citizens who have a BARD account, this app gives access to the digital talking books that are provided by the NLS free reading program. You can directly view the recently added books and download any you wish. But for older books, they need to first be added to your wishlist. This is easily accomplished with any browser on any accessible platform. The app also lets you view magazines and Braille, downloading recently added or wishlist items as well. Of course the app also plays downloaded titles, including playing audio in the background. The listener can adjust the tone and speed of the audio. The daisy books from the NLS don't include text. Visual settings let you customize screen layout if you are low vision. A clearly written and lengthy user guide is included and can be read offline. It's an HTML document with a table of contents that includes links to each section, making it easy to find the help information you need. The app makes prolific use of VO hints, enabling even a beginner to download and read. Unlike many apps which seem "thrown together" this one is carefully designed, well thought out and thoroughly documented. I'm a little surprised that I, an average user was the first one in the Applevis community to notice its availability.

Submitted by Jim D on Monday, September 23, 2013

You can actually add items to your wish list from within the BARD Mobile app. On the Get Books tabk, you will find a link to browse the BARD website. This website is almost identical to what you would find on a desktop browser. The only difference, where you would normally find links to download a book or magazine, you will find a link to add this item to your wish list. Once you have done that, you can go to the wish list button, also under the get books tab and download the title to your device. I really enjoy the ability to download and read NLS content without the need for SD cards and cartridges! Jim

Submitted by Human.Chess on Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I was listening to James Patterson's 3rd Degree when I had this problem. The book has multiple parts and when I got to part 4 I got this error "failed to decode audio file". All other parts of the book played normally. Has anyone else seen this problem? Any ideas how to fix the problem?

Submitted by Travis on Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In reply to by Unregistered User (not verified)

I had the same problem with a book that I downloaded as well. I have no idea why. I am using an iPhone 4, but should have enough memory to have all things covered. Anybody have any ideas?

Hi, Marrie. I have just downloaded the books that were on my flash drive to the phone, which worked successfully. Perhaps doing that on your end may resolve the problem. Good luck.

Those were on the flash drive I had. I got unable to play this unauthorised book on the player or what ever it was. I had to redownload *all* the books and add them. It sucked but thanks to itunes I did it rather quickly, with in about 20 minutes.

Awesome app, like others have said, well thought out and instantly one of my favorite apps - THANK YOU NLS for putting this out and hitting a home run with your implementation

Submitted by Lynne on Sunday, October 6, 2013

My only regret is that there is no sleep timer. Do folks have any ideas about setting one? Thanks in advance for your suggestions/comments.

Submitted by alex wallis on Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hi all, just wondering is use of this app only available exclusively to US citizens? had a look at the website but couldn't see any information about if people from the UK can use the app. Reason I am not sure is because it is available in the UK app store. I emailed the support email address but so far have had no reply. Guess if its only available to US citizens I will have to start asking my sources about getting details. This app goes to show how seriously behind the RNIB is compared to the US now both in terms of technology and in the range of titles available.

Submitted by billy lei on Sunday, October 13, 2013

In reply to by Lynne

Sleep timer. If you wish to have BARD Mobile’s audio playback turned off after a specific amount of time, you can do this with your iOS device. In the device’s clock application, select the timer tab and then activate the When Timer Ends button. You will be presented with a list of sounds in alphabetical order. Select Stop Playing, which is the last item on the list and is not a sound. After selecting this, you can set the timer for the desired length of time and BARD Mobile’s audio playback will stop playing when the time is up. If Siri is active on your device, after Stop Playing is selected, you can use Siri to tell your device “set timer for 30 minutes,” if you would like. List end

Submitted by soni on Monday, October 14, 2013

For some reason, I can not access my wishlist on my ipod or phone. It shows as zero items. When I check on the site, they are there. Anyone else having this problem?

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Monday, October 14, 2013

In reply to by soni

You need to wait until it refreshes. Did you try that and see, it should take no more then 30 seconds for the app to refresh. Take care.

Submitted by billy lei on Monday, October 14, 2013

This app is excellent I use everyday

Submitted by Toonhead on Monday, October 14, 2013

In reply to by soni

Seems there's an issue with the API that the BARD app uses to access the website, so you can try going to the get books tab and it'll try to access the website but the request times out. Since there's not a lot of support available for obvious reasons I hope the problem magicly fixes itself. This happened once before a few days ago and the problem was solved somehow, so hopefully it'll happen again. :)

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hey. Is there any way that I can set BARD Mobile to continue to download a given book when my screen locks? It is annoying that the app stops downloading books every time my screen locks, so I have to keep touching the screen to keep it active so the book will continue downloading.

Hello. As previously stated, set the auto lock to never, and your book will be downloaded when the device remains unlocked. Also, reading a book uses standard audio stuff as far as I can tell. You can still listen to books while the device is locked. I noticed the download deal the first time I locked my phone screen. Books in the download que would stop downloading and I had to find them and redownload them again.

Submitted by Ali Gamez on Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hello! I have been adding books to this app with no problems, until this morning. I usually add them through iTunes and it works just fine. However, when I attempted to add books this time, they didn't sync to the app. I tried clearing a bunch of space on my device, adding them through the iOS Dropbox app, and nothing changed. Does anyone have any suggestions? Warm regards, Ali

Submitted by Ekaj on Saturday, June 28, 2014

I don't currently own an i-device but wish to comment here. I'm hoping there will eventually be a BARD app for the Mac. I've been a registered patron for several years and love the program. I really hope these digital players stick around forever, because they're truly the greatest! I realize this app just came out, but a Mac app would be very nice indeed. Long live BARD!

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, June 29, 2014

I know that many of us have expressed ideas for improvement to the BARD app here. 1) Has anyone contacted BARD directly to give feedback on these? 2) Is there a link where one can do so? If so, could someone please give me the direct link to do so?

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, September 21, 2014

At least one other person I know has reported this problem after upgrading to iOS8. He thinks it might be an app compatibility issue. This is one reason I have yet to upgrade to iOS8. I would go ahead and do so, but I am concerned that the BARD app developers, as I undmerstand it, are very slow to update their app (if at all) and to listen to customer feedback/suggestions. Please do let me know if I am wrong about that, but I read BARD books quite a bit and the inability to search is a major turn-off for me.

BTW, is anyone else who has upgraded to iOS8 experiencing this? If you are or if you are not, please write in here so I and others can judge the probability of its occurrence before upgrading to iOS8.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, September 21, 2014

Since I never ever use the search feature I would not be able to tell if it was broken or not. Can you be more specific as to what you mean it is broken? Give a step by step starting with launch bard mobile as to how to reproduce the problem so that I and tohers can submit to apple as a bug report. or bard, or both.

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, September 21, 2014

1. Launch BARD.
2. Go to "Get Books" tab.
3. Go to "Browse BARD".
4. Rotor-select "Forms". Then, go to where you can search the collection.
5. Double-tap in the search field to activate the keyboard. When you do this, the keyboard fails to come up and you are therefore unabel to search.

Again, having not yet upgraded to iOS8, I have had no first-hand experience with this, but this is how it was explained to me (as I mentioned in my previous post).

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, September 21, 2014

That would have to be reported to bard, and since we have heard hide nor hair of them for a year I am not sure this bug will be resolved.

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, September 21, 2014

If you know exactly what book you want, is there another quick way of locating it in the system other than searching? If so, how does one do this?

Submitted by Justin on Sunday, September 21, 2014

If I am reading this correctly, you will have to use the site, find books that way, and add them to your wish list. I can't think of any other solution that would work.
hope this helps!

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ah, K, then it sounds like the issue is sort of like the one we first encountered with various sites, including this one, when iOS7 first came out.

If anyone else is having this problem, please let us know whether that worked for them.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Sunday, September 21, 2014

In reply to by Ekaj

There will likely *never* be a BARD app for a Mac or for a windows PC or any flavors of Linux or any other OS that runs on a computer. Why? Because it's NLS policy not to allow BARD books to be read on computers due to the possibility of unauthorized sharing.

It sounds as if this is yet another instance of the (already reported on Applevis) bug wherein flicking left or right to bring VoiceOver's focus to an element that is not being displayed visually on the screen results in the inability to activate the element. As I've reported elsewhere, there are a few apps which exhibit this bug -- notably Pandora -- in their latest updates even though running on iOS 7.1.2. Apparently there's something in adapting apps for iOS 8 that causes or is one of the causes of this bug. The solution is, as noted, to scroll around and find the button directly with the finger which, in addition to placing VoiceOver focus on the the element, also makes it visually visible and, hence, capable of being activated.

Incidentally, BARD is actively working on a new version of the app with enhancements. Wonder if you went to the BARDTalk website if there might not be a "feedback" button to give suggestions?

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Sunday, September 21, 2014

DIdn't reven realize a "BARDTalk" website existed. Is it officially maintained by the makers of BARD?

Honestly, I have experienced this bug on occasion even before iOS8.

Submitted by Brooke on Monday, September 22, 2014

I've just tried searching with the Bard app, using iOS 8 on my iPad Mini with retina display. Everything worked as it did with iOS7. I'm not able to test it with my phone because I haven't updated it to iOS 8.