NLS Factsheets

Web-Braille July 2003

What is Web-Braille?

Web-Braille is an Internet, web-based service that provides, in an electronic format, many braille books, some music scores, and all braille magazines produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). 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, requiring the use of special equipment for access.

What does Web-Braille contain?

Web-Braille contains the full text of thousands of NLS-produced braille books, hundreds of items from the NLS Music Section, and every braille magazine currently produced by NLS. Several cooperating network libraries are now placing books transcribed under their auspices on Web-Braille.

Books. The books currently available through Web-Braille include press-braille books produced by NLS since 1992. More than a thousand older titles are also available. Titles not included are uncontracted, foreign-language, and print/braille books. NLS adds new books to Web-Braille when the hardcopy braille books are approved for shipment.

Music Scores. About five hundred braille music scores are available through Web-Braille, and more are being added every month. They provide music 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 span a range from popular songs to the standard repertoires for each instrument, with particular focus on the eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early-twentieth-century masters.

Magazines. Beginning May 2001, all NLS-produced braille magazines became available on Web-Braille. Magazine files are normally available on the Web-Braille site within one working day from the time the hardcopy magazine is shipped to readers. Issues of a few magazines are available back to early 2000, and every issue of the music publication Popular Music Lead Sheets can be accessed beginning with the first issue in 1978.

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:

  1. Schools for the blind;
  2. Public or private schools providing braille to blind children, whether the school is set up as a special-format deposit collection or as an institutional patron; and
  3. Nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is to produce braille books for the use of eligible readers in the U.S. Some examples are 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 first 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 new subscriber 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 online catalog. This catalog is located at www.loc.gov/nls/catalog. To retrieve Web-Braille titles using the quick search page, put 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. Braille Book Review. The Web version of each issue of Braille Book Review published since July-August 1999 contains links to all new braille books available on Web-Braille. The online version of Braille Book Review can 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 number and volume number and has a ".brf" file extension. For example, volume 2 of BR 12345 will have the filename "12345v02.brf". Items from the NLS Music Section are named with their BRM number but have the letter "m" preceding their volume number to distinguish them from national collection braille titles. Items produced for cooperating network libraries have a two-letter state abbreviation followed by a three-digit book number. Magazine files have a two-letter magazine code, followed by the month, day (if applicable), year, and letter indicating part. All files on Web-Braille have a .brf file extension.

What equipment is needed to access Web-Braille?

Web-Braille files may be read online or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing with 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." These FAQs are accessible from the main Web-Braille page.

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Posted on 2006-05-30