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Commonly asked questions from Health Sciences Library users.

Accessibility Kits

The University of Washington Libraries aims to create and enhance equitable and inclusive environments for research and learning. These accessibility kits contain tools that help create opportunities for students, staff, faculty and borrowers who have need of visual, hearing, dexterity or fine motor skills assistance in completing their work. 

Accessibility kits were created through generous funding from the Friends of the Libraries awards. Items within the kit are library use only.

Items that need to be checked out in the kit include:

Items that do not need to be checked out in the kit include:

High-contrast, large-type keyboard

Photo of the high-contrast, large-type keyboardReasons for use: The large type and high contrast of these keyboards assist individuals with low vision by reducing eye strain while making their time more productive and enjoyable. These keyboards make typing easier for those with limited fine motor skills by eliminating multi-function key necessity and larger key size.

How to use: Plug keyboard into a USB port on the computer you want to connect to. The keyboard will start working right away. No special software is required for use.


Photo of the lapboardParts included: Lapboard, two removable elastic loops

Reasons for use: 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.

How to use:  Place the lapboard on lap or across the arms of the wheelchair or scooter.  Elastic loops on the lapboard can be positioned around the arms on the wheelchair or scooter to keep the board more secure.

Pocket hearing loop

Photo of the pocket hearing loopParts included: Body of pocket-hearing loop, removable neckloop, mic, black extension cord for mic, (earphone/headphone not included)

Reasons for use: 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 class or program. Individuals who use hearing aids or telecoil-equipped cochlear implants, may struggle with noise, feedback, or speech comprehension. Pocket loops are like a “focused headset”.

How to use: All instructions are oriented with the barcode side facing the user and the mic and earphone ports facing up.

Users can secure the pocket-hearing loop to an article of clothing or their person by either the clip on the back or the neckloop. For best results, the microphone (on the end of the black cord) should be placed as close to the person speaking as feasible.

Plug earphone/headphone into the port on the top righthand side of the device. The left dial (marked with a musical note icon) controls tone, and the right dial (marked with a speaker icon) controls volume. Turning the tone dial clockwise boosts the high frequency (max gain 11 dB at 5 kHz) and turning the tone dial counter-clockwise boosts the low frequency. Use the volume control to turn the pocket-hearing loop on. Please ensure this dial is set to “off” when returning the item.

Trackball mouse

Photo of the trackball mouseParts included: Body of mouse with fixed USB cord, removable trackball, removable wrist rest

Reasons for use:  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 less muscles in their hands and wrists.

How to use: Plug trackball mouse into a USB port on the computer you want to connect to. The mouse will start working right away and can be used with either hand.

Roll the ball to move the cursor on the screen. Rotate the black dial surrounding the ball to scroll up or down on the page. The lower left button controls “left click”, and the lower right button controls “right click”. Press the upper left button to use the trackball to scroll, press again to stop scrolling. Use the upper right button to return to the previous page in a web browser without having to use the “back” button on the page. There is no necessary software to use this item.

Disposable noise-reducing earplugs

Photo of the disposable earplugsReasons for use: Disposable earplugs are useful for those with cognitive or learning disabilities. Earplugs allow for more focused concentration in spaces with additional noise.

You may dispose of the earplugs when you are done using them.

Magnifier bar

Photo of the keyboard magnifierReasons for use: Magnifier bars can be used by those with low vision to enhance the size of text and reduce eye strain caused by small print. Please return the magnifier bars to the Information Desk before leaving HSL.

How to use: Use the flat side of the magnifier bar to scan over pages of writing.