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 2 weeks ago



Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Monday, September 22, 2014

I had this bug as well. Just three finger flick down the page till you can locate the search field manually. Doubletap it and you're good to go.

Submitted by Misty Dawn on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If any of you has ever tried contacting someone at BARD, you will know how difficult it is to find contact information for them.

I did, after looking through the LOC web site, however, find one little main phone number for it. I just tried calling it today and was asked to "leave a message" and "the librarian" (whoever that is) would "get back to me". My cynical self tells me that I will either get called back quite late or that it will never happen at all.

I therefore recommend that we all go ahead and try calling the following number about the BARD issue and that we also let them know how difficult they make it to contact anyone about the app.

The number is: 1-202-707-5000

Be sure to state that you have a question regarding the NLS Braille/Talking Book library so that you will be directed to the right people and go from there.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The search problem is *not* a BARD Mobile bug; it's the iOS 8 bug wherein visual focus doesn't always follow VoiceOver.

I reiterate that I hear a new version of BARD Mobile is coming; NLS was waiting for iOS 8 to come out before even releaseing the app for beta-testing. but with the iOS 8 VoiceOver and other accessibility problems, I suspect NLS is leery of doing anything until a more-or-less fixed-and-stable release of iOS 8 has been around for a few weeks.

Here is a quote from a prior post.

I had this bug as well. Just three finger flick down the page till you can locate the search field manually. Doubletap it and you're good to go.

Does this not work for you? I hear from other users it does not.

Submitted by Orko on Monday, September 29, 2014

Has anyone else seen this problem?

After upgrading to IOS8, then to IOS8.0.2, I have noticed that while listing to a book, BARD stop playing, then continues, as soon as I start to unlock the screen. Very anoying.

FWIW: I have already contacted the NLS, and the developers about this problem.

Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Monday, September 29, 2014

Make sure you have background playback enabled from within the bard app. If this option got inadvertently turned off, it might be causing this problem.

Submitted by Orko on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Background play is on. It was either on by default or I turned it on thinking it was needed in order for books to keep playing when the screen is locked.

And in case it matters, this is on a 5th generation iPod Touch.

Submitted by Ali Gamez on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Has anyone else noticed the shortcuts specific to reading Braille in BARD (such as R to go to the reading window, and S to go to the search field) no longer work?

Submitted by dvdmth on Friday, October 31, 2014

Club AppleVis Member

As has been discussed frequently, iOS 8 introduced a scrolling bug which got in the way of searching for books in the BARD Mobile app. The workaround has been to scroll the screen manually with three fingers, then find the search field by touch.

I just received an email from the CTBL, and the information below is copied and pasted from that email. I thought I'd pass the info along in case others are interested.

Attention BARD Mobile users,

We have been able to tweak a few things with BARD. The result is that the search field in the web view of BARD Mobile now works as it did before the release of iOS8. In order to make this change, the checkbox and accompanying text that limit the display of local materials has been temporarily removed. For now, there is no longer an option to eliminate locally-produced materials from searches. The fix has been tested on iPhone 6 and 5/5S. Because the iPhone 4S has a smaller screen than more recent models, this change will not be effective on iPhone 4S. Devices older than the 4S cannot run iOS 8 and so do not encounter the bug.

Once iOS 8 is fixed and this bug no longer occurs, we will restore these items to the main page.

Thank you for being patient as we work to improve your BARD experience.

The BARD Technical Support Team
NLS BARD Technical Support

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, November 2, 2014

This bug has not been a problem for me and in fact I was completely unaware of it until I read about it here on AppleVis.

First of all, as far as using iPhones, iPods, and probably iPads, I am, for all practical purposes, blind. I have light perception and can sometimes see a little more than just light sources, but can see no details. iPhone and iPod screens look like a fuzzy rectangle of light to me. I have the screen curtain turned on because it conserves battery power and lighting up the screen is of no use to me.

I've always found it more convenient to scroll down a page, then locate the search field directly, rather than swipe through all the stuff that comes before the search field.

Where the scroll bug does become a problem is on the search results screen, especially if there are a lot of hits.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, December 26, 2014

As Ali noted earlier, the Braille reading keys are not working, which makes the app pretty unusable for Braille books because it doesn't automatically keep up with the last reading position. Another discussion forum suggested that turning quicknav off solves the problem: VO is grabbing the keys, apparently. Problem is that Braille displays and gestures can't be used to toggle quicknav. Only a Bluetooth keyboard can do it. The developers could do a few things to work around this, it seems to me: either use the custom actions rotor option to insert the hotkey actions on the rotor, enable IOS 8 Braille screen input so that the commands can be entered that way (which still risks losing the reading position when the display is touched), or, you know, somehow disable quicknav while the app is active.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

it was down until today. Keep trying, or reinstall the app. Your registrations might need to be reset.

good luck.

Submitted by Toonhead on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It would appear that the bard website and app have the same effect on blind people the same way that Facebook has on the sighted. It's down, there's nothing we can do, so just hang tight. I do believe you can still read any books you've previously downloaded, so find a few and read those while we wait. Also remember, there's audible and bookshare.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Agreed. Somethimes our tech just doesn't work as we would like it to. This is one of the reasons why we download books ahead of the one currenently being read, use a portable backup solution for the PC, have a battery pack for those times when the lights go out, etc. After all, we must be connected, or at least I must be. We love our tech and really do feel lost if something isn't performing up to our expectations. Preparation is key, right?

Submitted by Diego Garibay on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Does this website have a email address that you can send support inquiries to? They probably already know it's down but it's always good to confirm. Perhaps they can give us a date for when it's going to be back to normal.

Submitted by dvdmth on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

The Colorado Talking Book Library just sent out an email relaying a message they received from the NLS regarding BARD:

“NLS is experiencing technical problems with communication channels administered by the Library of Congress that are necessary to run BARD. We are making every effort to fix the problem and restore service.”

Submitted by Michael Hansen on Sunday, October 18, 2015

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

BARD Mobile version 1.1 is now available:

What's New in Version 1.1

  • Built-in sleep timer
  • New setting keeps device from sleeping while download is in progress
  • Add to wish list directly from details screen
  • Enhanced braille search function
  • Improved VoiceOver hints and labels
  • New braille shortcut key
  • Improved Magic Tap response
  • Works with iOS 9

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, October 18, 2015

I wish they would lift the 100 registrations a month though. That drives me nuts, even if you finish a book you remove it and the registration count does not reset. The only way to reset it is to reinstall the app and loose your books you had in the first place. I told our local branch about this and they don't believe me about the 10 registration count per month.

Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Sunday, October 18, 2015

I am not aware of this bug. Can you explain what the problem is? You can't download 10 books per month?

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, October 18, 2015

It's actually 100 books per month but if you finish one and remove it from the app it still does not take away the registration for said book so it still thinks you have 100. So if you reach that the book might download but you might get the you are not authorized message. NLS will not tell you about this by the way. I found out about this through someone who found out from a staff member who just happen to know. Most staff either are not aware or they re not loud to tell you.

Submitted by Joyfuljules on Saturday, January 16, 2016

Today I've been having an issue where the shortcut key doesn't seem to be working. When I press the letter r, dots 1, 2, 3, 5 on my Braille display, instead of taking me to the place in the book where I last left off, it is activating the navigation button. When I hit the back button, sometimes it takes me to the right place in the book and sometimes it doesn't. I've now lost my place in the book and can't get back there without spending twenty minutes scrolling through the pages! I've also tried using the search function and it isn't finding any of the words I've searched for. I'm a new Braille display user and don't have much experience. Any suggestions on what I might be doing wrong? Or is anyone else having this issue? Thanks.

Submitted by Usman on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I am getting sick and tired of getting system messages about bard express everytime I load the app. Is there no way to turn this off?

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'm all for getting a message once or twice, but like you say, every time you open the app is a bit excessive.

Submitted by Justin on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ok, I have to ask... What the heck is bard express? I've honestly never heard of it before and have never even seen that message pop up in my bard app.

Submitted by Toonhead on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bard Express is a windows-only program, (sorry, Mac users!) that allows people who aren't very good with using the website to download books and put them on a flash drive or cartridge. It just simplifies the process for those who aren't particularly tec-savvy. There's absolutely no requirement, whatsoever to use it, it's just yet another way to download books from bard.

Submitted by JeffB on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I wish you could search for books from the app instead of having to log in and add them to your wishlist.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

You can search for books from Bard in the app. It's under the "get books" tab. The whole wish list thing is stupid, though. I agree with the idea of a list to store titles you may wish to download, but why not have a direct download link. It's just a needless extra step to get a book.

Submitted by Apple Khmer on Thursday, December 22, 2016

There is a direct download option in the app.

Wait! I just looked at the app agian, and theer is no direct download option. I thought theer was one before.

Submitted by JeffB on Thursday, December 22, 2016

Oh cool I'll check it out and yeah I agree the wishlist is odd.

Submitted by Jim Homme on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I keep losing my place when I open the app and try to open Braille books. Is making bookmarks the best way to get back to where I lave off?


Submitted by Ekaj on Friday, January 18, 2019

Thanks for your help. It's just as well that there is and will be no Mac counterpart for this. Why do I say that? Well...I just grabbed this app earlier today and took it for a brief test-drive by reading one of my previously downloaded short books. I originally thought I only needed my NLS player, but this app is amazing. Now I can truly read on the go with NLS and Dolphin! Very cool.

Submitted by Ekaj on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hi all. Subject line pretty much says it all but please allow me to explain a bit. I discovered something this weekend, and I wanted to make people aware of it in case they haven't already found out themselves. I'm also going to post this in the thread for Dolphin Easy Reader, and contact both Dolphin and NLS regarding this. I've had absolutely no other issues with BARD Mobile, and fortunately I found a fix for the issue I did have which I'll explain. So what is that issue anyway? Well...This weekend when I was at my parents' place for a birthday celebration, I attempted to download and listen to the latest issue of "National Geographic" using BARD Mobile. However, when I went to start the audio the app immediately threw an error message at me. The message indicated that the audio couldn't be decoded. Rather than contact the developers straight away, I figured I would do a bit of detective work. I also needed to download a book from BookShare using Dolphin Easy Reader, hence the need to mention that app here. As it turned out I couldn't get that book to read in either app, but I'm planning to contact the appropriate people regarding that. So I ended up deleting that book and closing Dolphin Easy Reader. Back to BARD Mobile I went to see if perhaps that issue of "National Geographic" would actually start playing this time. But sadly that was not the case. So I promptly removed the magazine from my book shelf, and removed Dolphin Easy Reader from my iPhone. Just last night I decided to open up BARD Mobile and re-download the magazine issue again. However, this time it worked just fine and I was able to set the Sleep Timer which I had originally planned on doing. So I guess the moral of this story is that there might in fact be a bug regarding shared audio. This doesn't appear to be happening with books, only magazines and only with this particular one for me. But like I said in the beginning, this is the only problem I've had with BARD Mobile and I hope it will be the last. End of story.

Submitted by dvdmth on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Club AppleVis Member

Several months ago I had an audiobook give me the exact same problem in BARD after downloading it, where it would give an error about being unable to decode the book for playback. Deleting and redownloading the book fixed the issue. So it can happen with regular audiobooks as well.

Submitted by Zoe Victoria on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I love this app, but sometimes I wish there was a recommendation feature. Kind of hard to find something good to read sometimes ...

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, June 20, 2019

If you also happen to use Kindle books, if you go directly to the Amazon page, not through the Amazon app, because you cannot purchase Kindle books through the app, once you arrive at a favorite author page, you can click follow the author. This will then generate Email notices to you whenever they release a new book or there is a sale on their books. Also, I use Bookbub and FreeBooksy newsletters, which allow you to select your favorite jenres and then you receive daily book sales that are either reduced in price or free. I have found many authors through these daily Emails. You just click the kindle link for the book and it takes you to Amazon where you purchase the book. You can sign up for these at their respective websites. Go to or If you find an author you really like you can check BARD to see whether or not the author is listed there. Sometimes you find them and sometimes you don't. but, if you didn't find them, at least you can purchase their Kindle books if you wish to. I hope this helps to find some fantastic reads as I have through this method.

Submitted by ToughGirl24 on Sunday, December 29, 2019

I have been trying to find a solution to a problem I am having with my father's iPad Pro and his BARD mobile app relative to using a bluetooth speaker or headset. If I play the book for him after pairing a bluetooth speaker or headset no sound at all will play. I have verified that the bluetooth item is indeed connected and plays music, but not the BARD book. My father is blind and hard of hearing so I need to increase the volume to the best of my ability. I have bought him a headphone set that is connected via 3.5mm cord but due to his advanced age and need to walk with assistance it is more prudent if I could get the bluetooth capability to work. I would be so grateful for any suggestions or assistance to try and fix this issue for him. Thank you!

Submitted by cat man on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

This app is awesome I enjoy reading my books on the couch.