4 Accessibility Tools in the UW Libraries


As part of our commitment to accessibility, the UW Libraries are working to ensure that we have accessibility tools available within our physical spaces. An updated list of all of our resources is publicly posted on our Accessibility at the Libraries page, but this chapter will go into some more depths on what we provide.

In the Libraries


All Windows computers in Odegaard Undergraduate Library and most in Suzzallo Library have Zoomtext (screen enlargement) software installed. Specific stations at Suzzallo, Odegaard, Health Sciences libraries, and other locations run more extensive access software suites.

For UW Bothell employees, use this resource for Adaptive Technology Workstation Specifications and Locations.

For UW Tacoma employees, you can find a a list of ADA Computer locations on your campus.

Adjustable height workstations

Most of our branches have some number of computer workstations on adjustable height desks. These desks can be used by anyone, but are specifically meant to ensure that those with various access needs (such as using a wheelchair instead of one of our provided chairs) can use our resources in a more convenient manner.

Accessibility Kits

At the UW Libraries, each library location has an accessibility kit (including Tacoma and Bothell, but excluding Gallagher Law Library and Friday Harbor Library) containing the following items for on-site use.

For more detail on how to use these items, see the Staffweb page, Accessibility Kits (UW Libraries use only).

Items available for checkout:

Trackball Mouse: Trackball mice are highly useful tools for those with dexterity and fine motor skill impairments, including carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. This mouse allows people to use differing or fewer muscles in their hands and wrists.

Pocket-Hearing Loop: This small personal amplifier is for one-on-one communications, and can be used at a service desk, when walking with a person to the stacks, or in a library classroom. Pocket loops are like a “focused headset”.

Lapboard: Lapboards can be placed on the lap or across the arms of a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Lapboards effectively provide a desktop space for a mouse and keyboard (or laptop) while improving reach and comfort for individuals with whom using a standard desk is impractical.

High-Contrast Large Type Keyboard: The large type and high contrast of these keyboards assist individuals with low vision by reducing eye strain. These keyboards also make typing easier for those with limited fine motor skills by eliminating multi-function keys. Note: Due to funding, the High-Contrast Large Type Keyboards are currently available only at UW Tacoma, UW Bothell/Cascadia College, Health Sciences Library, Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Suzzallo and Allen Libraries.

Items available without checkout:

Magnifier Bars: Magnifier bars can be used by those with low vision to enhance the size of text and reduce eye strain caused by small print.

Disposable Noise-Reduction Earplugs: Disposable earplugs are useful for those with cognitive or learning disabilities. Earplugs allow for more focused concentration in spaces with additional noise. Available until supply runs out.

Assistive technology tools

When creating content, which could be anything from email to a slideshow, it is important to consider the different ways in which people may be accessing your content. Someone blind, for example, may be using a software that will read to them (commonly called a “screen reader”), whereas someone deaf will need anything with an audio component to have that information also communicated visually.

If you have time, consider watching the video below featuring Hadi Rangin, Information Technology Accessibility Specialist, who gave a presentation about testing with screen readers during an event for the Accessible Technology Webinar Series at the University of Washington.

 Video runtime: 1 hour, 19 minutes

More resources

Visit the UW Accessibility websites below to understand how accessibility and technology interact at our institution:

Learn more about assistive technologies and screen readers at the American Foundation for the blind.


Knowledge Check

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Quick Tips for Accessibility Copyright © 2023 by Perry Yee; Deepa Banerjee; Kira Wyld; Artemis L.; and Jinny S. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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