By Robert E. McClain
By now, most of you have probably heard of BARD, unless you have been hibernating for a couple of decades like Rip Van Winkle, or perhaps you took a round trip to Mars or one of the other planets. However, in the event you do not know, BARD stands for “Braille and Audio Reading Download.” BARD is a service provided through the national library service’s website for the blind and physically handicapped. This service allows you to download digital books just about any time, night or day, and if you are an avid reader like I am, being able to do this is like being locked up in a chocolate factory — that is assuming you are a chocolate lover.
Needless to say, there are various methods of downloading from BARD, such as via mobile devices and the computer. For this discussion, I will focus on using a computer with a screen reader, specifically Window-Eyes. The following instructions are for finding and downloading books from the BARD main page using Window-Eyes 8.4.0 and earlier versions.
Before you can download from BARD, you must become a registered user and you do this by contacting the library where you receive digital talking books so that you can create a username and password. (For additional information on registering with BARD, go to this website: https://nlsbard.loc.gov/index.html.) Furthermore, it is critical that you register because, each time you go to BARD to download, you must enter your username and password before you can gain access to all of the books and other information that is available there.
Window-Eyes Navigation Keys Used For Searching
Once you log into the BARD site, you will perform searches for books and periodicals on what is known as the main page. From the main page, you will use a Window-Eyes feature called “browse mode” to navigate the webpage. Window-Eyes supports the Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers. The hotkey to toggle browse mode on/off is Control-Shift-A. While in browse mode, Window-Eyes works with an invisible pointer that allows you to cursor through a virtual representation of the page rather than working with the information actually presented on the screen. Also, pressing the speak summary hotkey, Control-Shift-S will cause Window-Eyes to report important web page details such as the number of links and headings on the page. After you have made your selection, you can download it by navigating to its file download link, then press the application key to open the links context menu and press enter on “Save Target As” or “Save Link As.”
Here are some additional tips you may use while searching the library’s collection:
- To type your search term into the edit box, browse mode must be turned off. Then type “E” to navigate to the edit box followed by the enter key.
- After typing your search term in the edit box, you then activate the search by pressing the enter key again.
- The various ways to search the NLS collection are by author, book title, narrator name, subject, and by item number.
- To access combo boxes and drop down lists, you must turn off browse mode. Navigate to the combo box by typing a “C” and activate it with the enter key. Use the arrow keys to move within the list.
- If you want to perform a new search or look up a different item, you must start over on the BARD main page.
- Go to the link for updating account settings on the BARD main page to make changes in how your results are displayed, your password, email address and/or to register a different playback device.
In closing, let me advise you that there is a wealth of resource information available if you need assistance with BARD or Window-Eyes. To get assistance with BARD you can access the Frequently Asked Questions link or go to BARD support. For questions about Window-Eyes you can go to either gwmicro.com or aisquared.com. Live technical support for Window-Eyes is available by calling 802-362-3612.