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Accessibility at the National Library of Medicine

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The National Library of Medicine supports the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We provide access to our buildings and collections in the Main Reading Room and the History of Medicine (HMD) Reading Room for researchers with disabilities.

Building and Physical Facilities

Researchers with handicapped plates or hanger tags displayed on their cars may park on the Library's north side (along Center Drive) in the designated spots. They may also park in a metered spot at any time without paying.

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

Motorized and manual wheelchairs are available for use.

Accessible restrooms are located on each level of the Library.

Accessible drinking fountains are located in the Main and HMD Reading Rooms and in the first floor lobby.


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

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Collection Access and Use

Two Main Reading Room workstations are equipped with special software for researchers with visual impairments:

  • Screen magnification software enlarges the text on the screen
  • Speech synthesizers read the text on the screen
  • Table height is adjustable for wheelchairs

Enlarged keyboard lettering is on some Main Reading Room workstations.

A Kurzweil machine scans English language text and reads it to the visually impaired researcher. Researchers may bring their own USB drives to save scanned materials.

Wide stack aisles in the Main Reading Room accommodate wheelchairs.

Wide stack aisles in the Main Reading Room accomodate wheelchairs

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Staff Assistance

NLM staff at the Information desk in the Main Reading Room and the Reference desk in the HMD Reading Room will assist researchers with disabilities by delivering collection materials to a carrel or table.

NLM staff will scan materials for researchers with disabilities on request.

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 (1-888-346-3656) or through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

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

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