TRENTON — The New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center’s (TBBC) Braille and Audio Reading Download service (BARD) for the blind and physically handicapped registered over 1,000 users just six months after assuming the administration of the program in NJ from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress.
Through the BARD website, registered participants may download over 18,000 books and over 42 magazines onto a digital cartridge or flash drive which plugs into a digital talking book machine provided by TBBC. Through the BARD service, TBBC patrons downloaded over 15,000 books and magazines this past summer.
NLS formally launched BARD on April 30, 2009, and began transferring responsibilities to the states in March 2010. Nationally, the service has proven to be quite a hit, with over one million downloads of books and magazines. TBBC assumed administration of BARD in NJ on April 9, 2010.
“We have received a very enthusiastic response to BARD in New Jersey,” said Adam Szczepaniak, director of TBBC. “The cornerstone of this program is providing independence to our visually-impaired and physically handicapped residents. It is noteworthy that in less than 10 months, 1000 individuals are downloading 5000 books a month.”
Registrants include over 40 children and teens from all over NJ who are participating in a pilot program through TBBC which provides middle and high school students with a cell-phone size player instead of the full-size one. “The smaller size is important to our younger users,” said Liz Burns, youth services consultant for TBBC. “It looks more like the MP3 players their friends have so they don’t feel like they are sticking out in the crowd by having to use the larger size player.”
To participate in this free service, the blind or physically handicapped person must be a registered TBBC user and have an email address. For more information on registration, contact TBBC at 1-800-792-8322 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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