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NLS Factsheets


Issued May 2010

What is Web-Braille?

Web-Braille is a web-based service that provides access to thousands of braille books, magazines, and music scores produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress. The service also includes a growing collection of titles transcribed locally for cooperating network libraries. The Web-Braille site is password-protected, and all files are in an electronic form of contracted braille that requires the use of special equipment for access.

Books. Nearly ten thousand press-braille books produced by NLS since 1992 are downloadable from Web-Braille or may be read online. More than one thousand older titles are also available. Uncontracted braille, foreign-language, and print/braille books are not included. NLS adds new titles to Web-Braille upon shipment of the press-braille books to libraries serving blind and physically handicapped readers.    

Magazines. NLS-produced braille magazines are available on Web-Braille. Magazine files are normally available on the download site within one working day after the hard-copy braille magazine is shipped to readers. A few magazine issues are available from as far back as early 2000, and every issue of the music publication Popular Music Lead Sheets since 1978 can be accessed.

Music Scores. Several thousand braille music scores are available on Web-Braille, and NLS adds more every month. The scores are for a range of instruments, from voice to violin, with levels of difficulty from beginning methods to advanced works, especially for the piano. The styles of music range from popular songs to standard repertoires for each instrument, with particular strength in the eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early-twentieth-century masters.

Who is eligible to use Web-Braille?

Copyright laws require that access to Web-Braille be limited to NLS patrons and eligible institutions. Access outside the United States, except to eligible American citizens, is not permitted.

Eligible institutions include schools for the blind; public or private schools providing braille to blind children; and nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is to produce braille books for the use of eligible readers in the United States, such as instructional materials resource centers and nonprofit transcribing agencies.

Agencies may use Web-Braille files only to produce braille copies. Under current copyright law, agencies may not make large-print or unencrypted e-text versions of books without the permission of the copyright holder.

How do eligible individuals or institutions sign up for Web-Braille service?

To register for Web-Braille, eligible program users must contact their cooperating network library and provide the library with an e-mail address and a six- to eight-character password. When the subscription is activated, the user will receive access instructions by e-mail.

How can a specific Web-Braille book be located?

Web-Braille books may be located in two ways:

  1. Online catalog. Links to Web-Braille books are included in the NLS International Union Catalog at www.loc.gov/nls. To retrieve Web-Braille titles using the quick search page, type the words “web braille” (as two words with no hyphen) in the keyword field.  
    The results list will contain a link to each volume of a Web-Braille title. When a Web-Braille volume is selected, the user will be prompted for a Web-Braille user ID and password.
  2. Online Braille Book Review. The web version of each bimonthly issue of Braille Book Review since July–August 1999 contains links to braille books recently added to the book collection and available on Web-Braille. The online version of Braille Book Review may be accessed from the main Web-Braille page or from www.loc.gov/nls/bbr.

In what format are the Web-Braille files?

Web-Braille files are in contracted braille ASCII format. Each file represents one volume of a braille book or magazine. Each volume of an NLS-produced book is named with the book’s BR and volume numbers and has a “.brf” file extension. For example, volume 2 of BR 12345 will have the file name “12345v02.brf.” Magazine files have a two-letter magazine code, followed by the month, day (if applicable), year, and letter indicating part of the magazine. Items from the NLS Music Section are named with a BRM number but have the letter “m” preceding their volume number to distinguish them from national collection braille titles. Items produced by cooperating network libraries have a two-letter state abbreviation followed by a three-digit book number.

What equipment is needed to access Web-Braille?

Web-Braille files may be read online or downloaded for viewing off-line or for embossing. Reading Web-Braille files requires a braille display, braille-aware notetaker, or braille embosser.

Is technical support available for Web-Braille?

Web-Braille technical support is provided through a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs), accessible from the main Web-Braille page.


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Posted on 2010-08-25