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Accessibility at the National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine supports the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing disabled researchers access to its buildings and collections located in both the Main Reading Room and the History of Medicine (HMD) Reading Room.

Building and Physical Facilities
Collection Access and Use
Staff Assistance

Building and Physical Facilities


Handicapped parking Parking for disabled researchers is located on the north side of the Library along Center Drive. Handicapped registration plates must be displayed to park in the reserved spaces.

Entrance ramp An entrance ramp is located on the north side of the Library with nearby elevator access to the Library's Reading Rooms.

Accessible restroom Accessible restrooms are located on the lower level of the Library.
Accessible drinking fountains are located in the Main and HMD Reading Rooms and in the first floor lobby.

A wheelchair-accessible public telephone with TTY is available in the adjacent Lister Hill Center (Building 38A).


Accessible elevator An elevator equipped with an accessible control panel and a voice announcer is located in the Library lobby.

Collection Access and Use


Workstation with adaptive technology Two Main Reading Room workstations are equipped with special software for visually impaired researchers:
  • Screen magnification software enlarges the text on the screen
  • Speech synthesizers read the text on the screen
  • Table height is adjustable for wheelchairs

Keyboard with enlarged lettering Enlarged keyboard lettering is standard on all Main Reading Room workstations.

Display of large-print handouts Large-print versions of instructional handouts are available.

Print enlarger A print enlarger, located in both the Main and HMD Reading Rooms, magnifies images from the printed page, and can change text and background color to accommodate special vision requirements.

Kurzweil reading machine A reading machine scans English language text and reads it to the visually impaired researcher. Researchers may bring their own 3.5 inch diskettes and/or audiocassettes to record scanned materials.

Accessible photocopier All public photocopiers have enlarging capabilities. One photocopier is specially designed with an adjustable voice announcer for the visually and/or hearing impaired, a lowered control panel for wheelchair access, and a magnifying lens for the visually impaired.

Wide aisles Wide stack aisles in the Main Reading Room accommodate wheelchairs.

Staff Assistance


Library staff assisting patron NLM staff at the Circulation Desk in both the Main and HMD Reading Rooms will assist researchers with disabilities by delivering collection materials to a carrel or table.

Library staff assisting patron NLM staff at the Reference Desk in both the Main and HMD Reading Rooms will assist researchers with disabilities by retrieving Reading Room materials from shelves or cabinets.

The photocopier technician will assist researchers with disabilities by copying materials for researchers when accessing the photocopiers in the Main Reading Room is difficult. Details are available from the Reference Librarian or the Photocopier technician.


NLM staff who are familiar with sign language are available to assist hearing impaired researchers. NLM requests that arrangements for this service be made in advance by calling the Reference Section at 888-FINDNLM or through the Maryland Relay Service at 800-735-2258.


The specialized equipment and software are optimized for NLM products. Staff can assist with basic features. Detailed knowledge of the equipment and software is the patron's responsibility.


For additional help, see the Reference Librarian.

Last updated: 17 May 2004
First published: 01 January 1998
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