[tabi] changes coming to the BARD download service

  • From: "Lynn Evans" <austin.evans60@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 20:01:25 -0400

 I need to thank Dorothy Martin for this post. This originally was posted to 
the BARD talk mailing list.  Enter on the link at the bottom of this article 
for a more comprehensive review of upcoming changes. 

        The following article, which appears in this week's edition of the 
Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, describes some of the enhancements to the
BARD and NLS programs we can expect to see this year:
Feature Writer John Christie - National Library Service Increases Reading
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is
making some positive changes to the Bard web site that I think you might
like. First and foremost, you will be able to read talking books on iPhones,
iPads, and Android based mobile devices. However, these mobile apps will
have to protect Talking Books from unauthorized use. All of their files will
have to be encrypted so that only devices authorized by NLS and used by
registered patrons will be able to access books. This process was one of the
biggest hurdles to overcome while they were developing the app.
Plans are also in the works to distribute audio magazines including Talking
Book Topics on digital cartridges. At least three magazines can be put on a
single digital cartridge. Because of the higher cost of these cartridges,
though, users will have to mail them back to the library so that more
magazines can be put on them.
Web-Braille, which was started in 1999, will be on the Bard website as well.
Now, you will be able to download Braille magazines, music scores, and
Braille books all from just one website. Previously, Web-Braille had its own
The NLS collection will now also have a broader selection of materials with
synthetic-speech narration because they will be joining forces with
commercial audiobook producers. NLS still has to be granted permission from
the rights holders to use commercial audiobooks, but they are constantly
working on that issue.
In recent years, audiobooks have come from one producer, Brilliance Audio.
NLS has only had the money to obtain 200 audiobook titles a year. Now, they
are reaching out to other audiobook publishers. "For the most part, people
are pretty happy with BARD: it is simple, it provides a basic need, and it
does that well. [But] it is growing like crazy, and we have to plan for
that," said Michael Martys, an NLS automation officer.
It costs $4,500 to produce a talking book from scratch. However, it costs
much less when you have the master files of a commercial audiobook. This
includes the work that NLS has to do with the book which includes
navigational markup and metadata and convert the files into digital talking
books. Because the commercial audiobooks don't cost as much to produce, this
could free up funds to produce more books each year.
Working with commercial audiobook producers will also allow NLS to "get the
book out much, much faster," said Neil Bernstein, NLS research and
development officer. And patrons will get to hear a wider variety of
narrators--perhaps even discovering some new favorites.
Wow I need to thank Dorothy Martin for sending this to my inbox. I hve been out 
of touch with the BARD talk mailing list for a good wile. now. This was 
originally posted to the list. 

In the months ahead, NLS will evaluate the quality of various text-to-speech
programs and begin to experiment with producing books using that
technology--not to take the place of live narration, but to augment what
they have. For example, it could be used, by patron request, to produce
download-only audio versions of books that are not in the collection.
Finally, a remote control unit will be available for those with limited
mobility and dexterity issues in early 2012.
It's good that NLS is making an app for mobile apps. It's also good that
they are adding Web-Braille to their site and also adding
commercially-available audiobooks to the Bard website. These changes to the
site, along with adding magazines, will make the site even more user
friendly to the blind and visually impaired and will be a one stop resource
for reading.

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