A Guide to BARD Mobile for iOS

Last modified
Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Hi! Welcome to my guide on BARD Mobile.

BARD Mobile (Braille Audio Reading Download Mobile), is a service that offers braille books and audiobooks from NLS.

With this app that is fully accessible, you can easily download, listen and read these books.

Talking books and braille books are free.

I will be explaining the elements the app, as best as possible, and as in much detail as possible.


In order to use this app, you must have a BARD account or NLS account as you may call it. This being the case, the app cannot be used without an account.

So, you must have that set up by either going to the BARD website and setting one up, or having a district such as your school pay for it.

Signing In

You must first agree to the terms of service/privacy policy by selecting the agree button (the last element on the screen) before you can sign in.

Once you do that, you can sign in with your account credentials. Then, hit the login button.

The app will load for a bit, then you will be placed in your Bookshelf screen. But before we talk about the Bookshelf, let's check out the tabs at the bottom of the screen.


In the BARD Mobile app, the sections are organized in tabs.

The first tab is selected, which is the Bookshelf tab.

Secondly, you have your Get Books tab.

Thirdly, your Settings tab.

And finally, your Now Reading tab, which is dimmed if you are not reading anything.


Your Bookshelf is your main tab in the BARD Mobile app.

The books that you get are organized in four folders/categories.

  1. Audio books

  2. Audio magazines

  3. Braille books

  4. Braille magazines

You may also see a help folder with some tips or guides that you can consult.

Reordering Categories

If you don't like the order of the folders, there is an Edit button at the top of the screen. When you select it, reorder buttons will appear next to each folder.

To move a category, simply double tap and hold, then drag your finger up or down respectively to move the category up or down.

When you are done, select the Done button.

Viewing Books

By going into one of the bookshelf folders you can see the books within, and sort them how you like.

Books can be sorted by:

  1. Title

  2. Author

  3. Latest

Also, next to each folder title, you can see the number of books you have. If you flick over the folder names, you will not only hear the name, but you will also hear the number of books in that folder.

Only books you've downloaded (see Get Books section) will appear, and . say the following attributes.


  1. Title

  2. Author (Last name then First name)

  3. Total book duration

  4. Annotation

  5. Narrator

  6. Book number in the NLS catalog

Braille books:

  1. Title

  2. Author (Last name then First name)

  3. Annotation

  4. Volume

  5. Book number in the NLS catalog

All these attributes can be found by selecting the More Info button next to each book.

Deleting Books

To delete a book, set your rotor settings to Actions, then flick down on the book and double tap.

There is also an Edit button at the top of each folder, and by selecting this the more info buttons disappear, so you can easily navigate and delete your books.

If you do it that way, the Done button is at the top.

Get Books

In the Get Books tab you can find recent books and recent magazines, along with a Wish List and Browse BARD button.

Sadly, you cannot download a book directly into the app, because there is no search function, so you must select the browse BARD button, otherwise you can look in the most recent books/magazines to find something you like.

However, if you previously downloaded books into BARD, you can select the previous downloads button and download books from there, by simply tapping on the book and confirming the alert that pops up.

When you select Browse BARD, you will be focused in a Safari like interface, but it is not Safari, it's the built-in app browser.

Turn your rotor settings to headings, then flick down till you find the Find Books heading. Flick right till you find the text field to search the collection.

Type in what you want to search for, and hit return on the onscreen keyboard or the Go button to the right of the text box.

Now, you will get your results. It will tell you how many books were found referring to title, author, annotation, etc.

Adding Books to The Wish List

There are two ways you can do this: you can either keep following my instructions, or use a separate device like a Mac or PC to add to the wish list, then return to the app.

But the iOS way, simply find the book you want and find the add to wish list button in the toolbar associated with the book. If you are satisfied with the books you've downloaded you may press the get books back button.

PC/Mac/Separate Device Instructions

  1. Open the web browser associated with the device (if PC locate the task bar and open your browser).
  2. Head to the BARD website and sign in.
  3. A similar page like iOS will pop up, and scroll down to the find books heading.
  4. Type query and press enter.
  5. In the book toolbar, press Enter on add to wish list.

If you are using a Mac, the same instructions apply, just with a different browser.

Downloading Books with the Wish List

To download a book that you've added to your wish list, locate the wish list button, then locate the book you would like to download by doing a single finger double tap on it. You will get a confirmation alert, and if confirmed with ok, the download will begin.

If you are still in the app when the download completes, you will hear a door bell sound from the app and an alert pop up confirming the book has been successfully downloaded.


We've reached the Settings screen.

In the Settings screen there are three sections:

  1. Audio Settings

  2. Visual Settings

  3. User account settings.

. IN the audio settings you can adjust:

  1. Speed

  2. Tone

  3. Background Playback

  4. Auto-lock during playback

  5. Skippable, play (drop down menu)

  6. Verbosity

  7. Restore Defaults.

In visual settings you can djust:

  1. Font Size, Medium (drop down menu)

  2. Contrast, Black & White (drop down menu)

  3. Restore Defaults

In the User Account settings there is:

  1. BARD Account

  2. Auto-lock during download

  3. Restore Defaults

With all these settings you can adjust the app to your liking.

Now Reading

The Now Reading tab is the tab that opens when the app has been opened, and you recently read a book.

For example, if I read the book Holes, in audio book/braille format, I could re-open the app, and the player is there, waiting for me.

The Now Reading tab is dimmed if you delete the book, or reached the end of the book.

Listening to Audio books

To listen to an audio book, go to the Bookshelf tab and select the Audio books folder.

Find your audiobook and double tap.

An audio book player will appear on your screen, in a DAISY type layout.

At the top you will see the title of the book, a navigation button to take you through the table of contents, an author status, narrator status, and time status.

After that you can find more items like the sleep timer, bookmark, etc.

Previous and Next Buttons

There are two types of previous and next buttons in the player.

First, you have the regular Rewind and Fast Forward buttons you are familiar with.

Then, you have a previous and next button that performs many different things.

In between the Next/Previous buttons you can control what they do. For example, if it is set on jump by chapter, the previous button will move back a chapter, and the next button will move forward a chapter.

There is also jump by phrase, level, parts (if in the book), and more.

The rewind and fast forward button also have a cool function.

If you double tap and hold, it will go back an amount of seconds, minutes or hours. First, it will move back 5 seconds, then it will keep getting bigger as your finger stays held on the screen.

Speed and Tone

You can adjust the speed and tone of the narrator to the right of the fast forward button. This is a toggle button, and to the right of that is the slider to adjust to what the toggle button is toggled on.

For example: if it were on tone, the slider would move the tone. If it were on speed, it would adjust speed.

This is kind of like the next and previous button that I reviewed above.

Reading Braille books

Braille books can be read with a braille display, but VoiceOver is useless. For a computer braille reason, voiceOver does not recognize the contractions, and mistakes them for other signs.

Lets give you an example: I am singing to myself.

As you can see, VoiceOver said that right. But if it was written in braille, VoiceOver would pronounce it as a computer sign, and it would be like this.

I am s plus plus to myf.

As you can see, VoiceOver decided to read the contractions as computer braille (or eight dot) symbols.

The i, n, g, contraction was read as two plus signs, and the myself contraction was read as m, y, f.

In order for or braille display to translate the characters correctly, switch zr braille output to Eight Dot.

To do this, press Space G (Space Dots 1-2-4-5) till VoiceOver says "Braille Output: Eight Dot." The bottom toolbar on the screen allows you to move to nexs page and previous page respectively, or set bookmarks.


Well, I enjoyed making this guide.

It may not be perfect, but it may still be helpful.

Like always, for extra help, contact me via AppeVis contact form, or add a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

Keep navigating AppleVis,



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Submitted by Diego Garibay on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This app has been out for a very long time. It is very good. However it does need to be updated so that it works properly with the latest iOS. It already has a few bugs and problems downloading. If you play a book while downloading another one that download goes faster for some unknown reason. Sometimes the download actually sticks and does not finish. Also I wish you could sync your position with two iOS devices.

Submitted by Jim Homme on Friday, September 28, 2018

Does anyone have advise about this? I keep losing my place when I try to read braille books. I keep finding myself at the beginning of the book. I would like to stop doing that and read from where I leave off.

Submitted by Jim Homme on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When I try to read Braille books and switch away from, then back to the app, I land at the top or bottom of the book. It looks like the only way to ensure that I keep my place is to put a bookmark in the book very often. Does anyone have a solution to this?


Submitted by tunmi13 on Thursday, April 25, 2019

Hey there,
Unfortanately, do to how iOS reads app content, this isn't really possible.
It would be cool if that were the case though, however iOs's default behavior is to jump to the top of the screen when you launch the app, unless the app dev wants VoiceOver to land on a specific element, which can't be done if the dev doesn't know where you left off. However, since audio is a bit more flexible, it will remember where you left off because it has an actual time duration.

Submitted by Alex Marositz on Thursday, April 25, 2019

I finally got my BARD membership yesterday and so this was good timing for me. Thanks for the work you put in to it.