500 Mckinney, First Floor
The Houston Public Library offers many services for people with disabilities and/or special needs.
The Access Center for people with visual and hearing disabilities located on the first floor of the Central Library provides special adaptive equipment, materials in accessible formats, and library services for patrons with special needs who are:
- Blind and/or visually impaired
- Deaf and/or hearing impaired
The Access Center is open during Central’s regular hours of operation. Appointments for tours and orientations are requested.
For appointments and reference questions please call:
Services provided by the Access Center include:
- Digital Audiobooks
Using a Houston Public Library card, all patrons can download digital audiobooks via OverDrive.
- Large Print Books
These are books with an enlarged typeface that makes them easier to read. HPL has more than 9,000 such books system- wide.
A color Topaz CCTV is available. Materials placed under the Closed Circuit Television lens are magnified onto a monitor.
- Video Relay Services
Purple Public Video Phone located in the Access Center and the PAV (Public Access Videophone), located in a phone alcove on the first floor. Both services allow deaf and hard of hearing people the ability to make Video Relay Service (VRS) and Point to Point (P2P) calls in public locations.
- ZoomText 9.1, a screen magnification software, has been installed on Access Center computers and at the following branches: Collier, Hennington Alief, Robinson Westchase, Park Place, and Scenic Woods.
- JAWS 8.0, a screen reading software has been installed on designated computers in the Access Center and at the following HPL branches: Collier, Hennington Alief, Robinson Westchase, Park Place, and Scenic Woods.
A scanning and reading appliance, into which reading materials may be scanned and read back in four major languages, including Spanish.
- Braille Embosser (printer)
Duxbury software will translate text into Braille for printing.
- Miscellaneous Computer Mice
Special mice designed for patrons with coordination and dexterity issues.
- Voice Recognition
Software that translates voice commands and is used in place of a mouse and keyboard.
- Descriptive Videos
Descriptive Video Service (DVS) provides an audio track that enhances the film experience for non-sighted and visually impaired patrons. The descriptions provide information related to the setting, the character’s attire, and facial expressions during pauses in the film dialogue. DVS DVDs are available in the Movies, Audiobooks and Music section of the Central Library. They are also available at many of our neighborhood library locations. Click here for a list of descriptive videos in the HPL catalog.
Telephone especially equipped for use by the deaf.
- Resource Material
Books and magazines pertaining to vision and hearing loss.
- ADA Policy and Grievance Procedure, City of Houston
Houston Public Library has two 17-inch laptops with JAWS (screen reading software) and ZoomText (screen magnification software) available for in-house use.
In order to request this equipment, you may contact staff at any Houston Public Library location, over the phone, or via e-mail.
- With advance notice of 24 hours, these laptops can be shipped to any Houston Public Library location.
- A 24 inch monitor is also available upon request.