Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool Part 2

In Part 1 of this series I talked about the National Library Service (NLS) player and its many uses. In this part, I will cover how to download an application for NLS and the books they offer. I will also cover other sources of downloadable books.

Getting Started

First check out VisionAware’s article on Audio Players and Talking Books. This article explains in detail the National Library Service and other audio book services.

In a nutshell, to become a patron of NLS and get the Talking Book Player, download an application for the NLS Talking Book Program.

Review or print out NLS Talking Book Player training materials.

image of BARD mobile app courtesy Library of Congress

The National Library of Congress also hosts BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), which is part of the National Library Service Talking Book program. BARD will provide access to the National Library of Congress Talking Book Library online, so patrons don’t need to wait for their books to arrive via postal mail. Visit the website to complete an online application.

BARD Talk on the Web Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) covers many questions related to downloading files to flash drives and NLS Talking Book cartridges.

For a list of retailers selling the blank NLS Cartridges and USB cable for transferring files, check out NLS: That All May Read. Remember, the USB cable for these cartridges is not a standard USB cable!

Free Audio File Downloads

Whether you are a computer user or not, the NLS Talking Book Player will permit you to tap into the wide variety of audio content available on the Internet. In addition to listening to books and magazines, you may want to take advantage of the many podcasts (digital audio recordings) on access technology that are available at no cost.

Alternative Download Sources

BARD is only one of many places to find books, magazines, and instructional podcasts that can be downloaded and played on the Talking Book Player. Try these alternatives:

  • AIRS LA (Audio Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles) has a great selection of audio magazines, podcasts, and newspapers that can be downloaded to NLS Cartridges or flash drives. For individuals with a vision impairment there is no charge to download files. Don’t let the title fool you, there’s no requirement to be a resident of Los Angeles to use the service!

  • Seminars@Hadley offers one of the best sources of podcasts related to access technology for blind and visually impaired users. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the Apple iPad’s VoiceOver screen reader, for example, download the iFocus series for free and get hours of great training! Users will also find a wide variety of other archived podcasts related to employment, adapted daily living skills (ADLs), braille, and much more. Go to Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired to search the archives.

  • AppleVis is another resource for podcasts on using Voice Over with an iOS device that can be downloaded and copied to play on a Talking Book Digital Player. To play MP3 files, they must be in a folder named audio+podcasts and it helps if you have the advanced player so you can move from file to file without listening to the whole recording.

  • Talking Computer Magazine is another great resource for training. There is a whole section on Training Guides done by Jim Gamage covering the latest version of Windows 10, a handy primer on editing documents with a screen reader, and much more.

  • Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) offers many podcasts as part of their Insight Radio program (now RNIB Connect Radio), including Tech Talk, a weekly summary of the top technology news with a focus on access technology.

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for Part 3 in which I talk about taking the next step–diving into the deep end and learning to use a personal computer (PC) with a screen magnifier or screen reader, with, guess what? An audio tutorial that you can play on your NLS talking book player!