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Minutes of Meeting Held on
February 23-24, 2001 Ottawa


In attendance:
Jacques Côté
Robert Fenton
Joby Fleming (February 23)
Elizabeth Gayda (February 23 a.m.)
Donna Pletz Passey
Monique Smith
Karen Taylor
André Vincent
Peter Webster
Paul Whitney
Louise Guertin
Mary Frances Laughton
Vangelis Nikias
Elaine Taylor

Secretariat:
Gwynneth Evans
Colleen McDougall

Guests: (February 23 p.m.)
Cory Galbraith
Ellen Katic
Chuck Letourneau
Emilie Lowenberg
Huguette Lussier-Tremblay

Absent:
Alain Stanké
Donna Achimov
Helen McDonald

Opening Remarks

Mr. Carrier, National Librarian, opened the meeting wishing the Council well in its deliberations and endeavours. Mr. Carrier stated that by the time the meeting adjourned, he expected the Council's work plan clearly outlining what needed to be done, by whom, in what time frame. He asked that there be consensus and engagement in the plan put forward.

Mr. Carrier read a message received from the Minister of Canadian Heritage on the announcement of the Council, which reads as follows:

"I welcome everyone gathered to celebrate the creation of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. In our knowledge society, information is synonymous with power. With more and more information available, it is important that it be made accessible to every member of our society. The establishment of the Council is good news for the 3 million Canadians who require alternate format materials and accessible websites. It is also good news for all Canadians. Canada is at its best when all citizens fully participate in its life.

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, I would like to acknowledge the initiative of the National Library of Canada and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for having set in motion the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. I would also like to thank all the members of the task force for their hard work and dedication. I am pleased that a council will help to implement the recommendations in their report: 'Fulfilling the Promise'.

Introduction

Mr. Paul Whitney, Chair of the Council, welcomed all members and proceeded with introductions.

Members of the Council were asked, prior to the meeting, to bring forward and identify the five recommendations, contained in the Task Force Report, that they felt should be addressed by the Council on an immediate basis.

The Chair informed the Council that due to conflicting schedules for Elizabeth Gayda and Monique Smith, the Chair would be hearing their presentations first and then open the floor to all members.

All members were heard and the Chair noted the frequency with which recommendations were mentioned.

Overview of the Task Force

Gwynneth Evans pointed out that certain members of the Council had been members of the Task Force. They are: Elizabeth Gayda, Donna Pletz Passey, and André Vincent.

The Task Force came to be, as Mr. Carrier stated earlier, because there was an issue related to access for Print-Disabled Canadians. He had visited the CNIB and worked with Dr. Herie to fund this consultation process.

The work that was conducted, through the six public sessions and through the development of an email address, a website and two listservs where people could make comments, exchange views, ask questions, and could send the Task Force their briefs, was public and transparent.

The result of these deliberations is the Report of the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians: Fulfilling the Promise.

Terms of Reference

The Council members had received a draft copy of the Council's Terms of Reference. These were the subject of lengthy discussion and questions.

A consensus was reached on the following Terms of Reference:

Purpose

The purposes of this Council are:

  • To provide advice, identify funding requirements, monitor progress and make recommendations to the National Librarian regarding the implementation of Fulfilling the Promise.
  • To identify and recommend to the National Librarian opportunities for the Council (or its designated spokespersons) to connect, inform and facilitate the work of the federal government in the advancement of the Federal Disability Agenda.

Membership

Membership is by appointment of the National Librarian. The membership remains with the appointee.

The National Librarian, in consultation with the Council, will review the membership every three years. Representation will come from but not be limited to:

  • Consumers and consumer groups
  • Publishers
  • Alternate format producers (private and not-for-profit sectors)
  • Educational institutions
  • Public libraries

The National Librarian will select the Chair from the Membership.

Meetings will be open to others, as appropriate.

To ensure appropriate links with the Federal Disability Agenda, individual officials from those federal departments most involved in issues related to access to information and Canadian content for the general public, will be invited to represent their Ministry.

National and International Programs Branch of the National Library of Canada will provide the secretariat functions (preparation of agenda, minutes, reports, etc.).

Duration of the Council

The Council will continue until disbanded, in writing, by the National Librarian.

The Council is responsible for reviewing its Terms of Reference on a regular basis to ensure their relevance, but will do so formally and in writing to the National Librarian, at least every three years.

Meeting Schedule for the Council

The Council will meet in person at least twice per year.

Other means, such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing, may be used for additional meetings, as appropriate.

Simultaneous interpretation will be used in formal meetings and all official documents will be available in both official languages and in the format of the Council member's choice.

Quorum

A quorum for a meeting is eight (8) members.

Work to be Undertaken

The Council will review Fulfilling the Promise and develop work plans and proposals to be submitted to the National Librarian.

The Council will respond to questions and concerns about access to information for Print-Disabled Canadians raised by the National Librarian.

The Council will communicate regularly with the National Librarian and the community stakeholders on the activities undertaken by or on behalf of the Council.

The Council will assist the National Library and the federal government representatives in making programs and activities related to access to information for Print-Disabled Canadians more broadly known and understood.

Following the discussions of the Terms of Reference, there were inquiries on how these proceedings would be formalized.

The Secretariat informed the Council that these proceedings were being taped and that a summary of the deliberations would be forthcoming in both official languages and in the format of the member's choice.

Minutes of the meeting will be forwarded to each member for his/her use but will not be made public until the Council has adopted these minutes at their next meeting and has discussed their availability.

The Chair proceeded to itemize what recommendations came forth most often.

Peter Webster and Joby Fleming gave the Council a brief history and function of the Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.

Deliberations continued on the recommendations of the Task Force addressing their meaning, intent and implementation.

The Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production

An explanation was given to Council on how this project came about.

Mary Frances Laughton sent in a proposal to a Treasury Board program called: The Positive Measures Program to produce a document called: The Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production.

This guide will be provided to all federal managers, along with a website, when completed. Mary Frances Laughton, in her proposal, assured the Treasury Board that this Council would ensure its continuity.

Mary Frances Laughton went to point out that the work of the guide has only been undertaken since early February; she has asked Cory Galbraith to give the Council a brief overview of what has been done so far.

Cory Galbraith explained that smaller scale projects had been done but that this one is the most comprehensive to date. They are in the research stages, at the present time, and will solicit this Council's advice, guidance, thoughts and opinions.

This guide will be instructional, educational and interesting.

Mary Frances Laughton provided the following timeframe:

  • Research phase - March 2001
  • Consultation, development and promotion
    April-early summer 2001

Gwynneth Evans pointed out that the guide is to go hand-in-glove with a strong, updated, current communications policy for the Government of Canada, in both official languages, and in alternate formats.

The Union Catalogue in AMICUS

Ms. Emilie Lowenberg, Chief, Union Catalogue Division; Huguette Lussier-Tremblay, Client Services, Information Technology Services; Ellen Katic, Union Catalogue Librarian.

An on-line visual presentation of ACCESS AMICUS was provided to demonstrate the kind of materials described in the database and how they can be searched.

A contact list for the Union Catalogue as well a list of alternate format contributors were distributed to members of the Council.

The Accessible Procurement Toolkit

Chuck Letourneau, Starling Access Services.

Mary Frances Laughton explained that the Accessible Procurement Toolkit is a project that has been worked on conceptually for about one year. The idea is that federal managers should be procuring material that is accessible. The tool kit has clauses, terms and conditions that people can cut and paste from the website, which is available from Assistive Devices Industry Office's home page, and bundle those clauses into contracting documents.

The tool kit is in two pieces. One is for straight procurement and the second piece is information on assistive technology.

Chuck Letourneau proceeded with the demonstration and pointed out that the site corresponds fully to the Treasury Board's new common look and feel policy which is requiring all federal government websites to be identified as such, applying all the official languages policies and as being accessible to persons with disabilities.

A question and answer session followed the presentations.

The Chair thanked all and expressed the Council's appreciation for their presentations.

Work Plan and Committees

The Chair and the Council reviewed all recommendations of the Task Force Report on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians: Fulfilling the Promise. They then developed the work plan as follows:

The Council would like to point out that that it is working with the spirit and intent of the recommendations rather than their exact wording. Given that the Federal Disability Agenda is an inter-departmental initiative, the Council has agreed in its plan to address recommendations to the Government of Canada rather than to a specific department.

What follows reflects discussion of the recommendations in order of priority:

Group A Recommendations, which can be implemented now
Group B Recommendations for which work can begin in the short term
Group C Recommendations, which can be the focus of presentation and discussion at the next meeting
Group DRecommendations, which require more discussion, consultation and study

The Chair summarized the discussion with the following priorities and work plan for the Council.

Group A

1. The Council recommends that a letter from Mr. Carrier to the Treasury Board Secretariat be prepared and sent immediately with reference to recommendation 16.

Recommendation 16
The Task Force recommends that the Treasury Board Secretariat require that all federal print material be available concurrently in multiple formats on demand.

Lead: Paul Whitney, Chair

2. The Council recommends that the National Librarian adopt and implement recommendations 9 and 20, in cooperation and consultation with the library community.

Recommendation 9
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada keep the CANUC-H/CANWIP databases up to date, comprehensive (inclusive of new media, e.g. tactile), representative and available to all alternate format producers. Access to the databases must be free.

Recommendation 20
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada provide leadership and support to Canadian libraries to facilitate interlibrary loans and encourage the sharing of materials in alternate formats.

Lead Committee consisting of:
Joby Fleming
Donna Pletz Passey
Peter Webster
Emilie Lowenberg - NLC

3. The Council recommends that the National Librarian communicate and negotiate, as soon as possible, with the Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic the conditions and the costs associated with a Canadian site licence. The Council members will provide information, background, and documentation for this process.

Recommendation 13
The Task Force recommends that the National Librarian negotiate a Canadian site license with Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.

Lead Committee consisting of:
Jacques Côté
Robert Fenton
Joby Fleming
Elizabeth Gayda
Donna Pletz Passey
Karen Taylor
André Vincent
Peter Webster

The Council requests that an inventory of sources for alternate format materials be prepared and recommends that negotiations be as broad as possible over the longer period to ensure that French language and heritage language alternate format be available to Canadians.

Recommendation 12
The Task Force recommends that the National Librarian expand the availability of braille materials by negotiating access for Canadians with national and international providers of braille materials.

Group B

4. The Council will communicate to the National Librarian the importance and urgency of the implementation of recommendations 3 and 4, with emphasis on recommendation 4.

Recommendation 3
The Task Force recommends that the Federal Government act on the recommendations from "Towards Implementing in Unison" (Nikias, Vangelis; Amos, Nancy; Lowe Menecola, Monica. Toward Implementing in Unison: the Case for Accessibility Devices for Visually Impaired Canadians (CNIB, June 1999))
Recommendation 4
The Task Force recommends that Human Resources Development Canada establish a universal support program for funding Print-Disabled Canadians to acquire and be trained in the use of assistive technologies.

Lead Committee consisting of:
Robert Fenton
Elizabeth Gayda
Mary Frances Laughton
Vangelis Nikias
Elaine Taylor

5. The Council stresses the need for a secure repository for files relating to recommendation 7.

Recommendation 7
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada establish and fund a clearinghouse for e-text to which Canadian publishers must make their works available.

Mary Frances Laughton, Industry Canada, and Monique Smith, Association of Canadian Publishers, have begun discussions. They are suggesting a pilot project as soon as possible.

Lead Committee consisting of:
Jacques Côté
Robert Fenton
Elizabeth Gayda
Mary Frances Laughton
Vangelis Nikias
Donna Pletz Passey
Monique Smith
Karen Taylor
André Vincent
Member of NLC staff

6. The Council emphasizes the importance of acquiring funding for Canadian content as stated in the following:

Recommendation 10
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, annually appropriate at least $7.5 million, beginning fiscal year 2001/2002, to support the production in Canada of multiple format (audio/large/large print) materials, which have authorship outside government.

The Council recognizes that this is a complex issue and that while it is late for the National Librarian to request funds for fiscal year 2001/2002, the Council recommends that strategies be developed in the first quarter of 2001/2002 to acquire funding.

Lead: All Council members

7. The Council will endorse this recommendation and will cooperate, as appropriate, with relevant government departments.

Recommendation 14
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Industry Canada, take a lead in participating in and funding the development, adoption and promotion of information and access standards such as NISO/DAISY/WAI and alternate format production standards.

Lead: All Council members

Group C

8. The Council will proceed in developing strategies for the following recommendations, in consultation with and with the advice of senior officials.

Recommendation 2
The Task Force recommends that the Canadian National Institute for the Blind energetically pursue the extension of its library services to all Print-Disabled Canadians.

Recommendation 19
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, recognize the primary role of the public library system by funding services for the use of Print-Disabled members of their communities.

Recommendation 21
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada's Adaptive Technology in Libraries Program, which operated from 1991 to 1995, be re-established.

Recommendation 22
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Human Resources Development Canada and Industry Canada, fund training programs for staff of Canadian libraries and for users of adaptive technology.

Group D

9. The Council recognizes the importance of the following recommendations and will be developing strategies to address them at the next meeting.

Recommendation 1
The Task Force recommends that self-identification be sufficient to give a person with learning disabilities the right of access to multiple alternate format materials.

Recommendation 5
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to Section 32 of the Copyright Act to include exemption for large print publications.

Recommendation 6
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to the Copyright Act to include exemption for the non-commercial narrative description of cinematographic works.

Recommendation 8
The Task Force recommends that federal, provincial and territorial subsidies be available only to publishers, which provide e-texts to the clearinghouse simultaneous with print publication.

Recommendation 11
The Task Force recommends that braille be recognized as a standard alternate format.

Recommendation 15
The Task Force recommends that governments at all levels use the force of procurement to promote and encourage the adoption of universal design standards for accessibility; only materials complying with such standards should be purchased.

Recommendation 17
The Task Force recommends that departments and agencies of government at all levels train their personnel to be aware of the needs of Print-Disabled Canadians, of the availability of multiple format materials and in the use of the related assistive technology.

Recommendation 18
The Task Force recommends that all levels of government make their publications available in multiple formats through the Canadian library system at no additional cost to the library.

Recommendation 23
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage, working in collaboration with the National Library of Canada, the CLA and ASTED, negotiate the delivery of alternate format materials as an integral component of the Library Book Rate.

Recommendation 24
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek a method to expand Free Matter for the Blind to include all Print-Disabled persons and to include new formats.

Conclusion

10. The Council unequivocally recognizes that it is paramount that the Government of Canada apply recommendation 26 in all its undertakings.

Recommendation 26
The Task Force recommends that in conjunction with every program designed to increase accessibility for Print-Disabled Canadians, there must be an aggressive program of public awareness.

Conclusion

The first meeting of the Council was concluded at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 24, 2001. It is expected that a second meeting will be held in the spring of 2001 to ensure that the momentum gathered by the Task Force be maintained.