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Minutes of Meeting Held on
February 18-19, 2005
Ottawa, Ontario

Members Present
Jacques Côté
Jacqueline Hushion
Donna Pletz Passey
André Vincent
Elizabeth Walcot-Gayda
Peter Webster
Paul Whitney (Chair)

Gwynneth Evans
Neil Graham
Gaëtan Lévesque

Sean Berrigan, Library and Archives Canada
Margaret McGrory, CNIB
Gordon Platt, A/Director General, Publishing Policy and Programs, Canadian Heritage
Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada
Emilie Lowenberg, Library and Archives Canada

Policy Advisors Present
Mary Frances Laughton
Catherine Moore
Cecelia Muir
Susan Murdock
Vangelis Nikias

Trisha Lucy, Library and Archives Canada
Ralph Manning, Library and Archives Canada (Secretary)


Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada welcomed the Council to its eighth meeting. He related the important work of the Council to the legal mandate of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) which is clear in its emphasis on access and making all Canadian documentary heritage known and accessible. He also noted that LAC is authorized to work with partners and to provide support to both the library and archival communities. The vast networks of libraries across the country provide extraordinary opportunities for partnerships in the development of mechanisms to improve access to information for persons with print disabilities and can be a powerful network for social change.

P. Whitney thanked Mr. Wilson and LAC for providing a safe harbour within the federal government for the issue of access to information for persons with print disabilities and for helping to provide a link to a variety of ministries.

The meeting's Draft Agenda was approved by consensus. The minutes of the seventh meeting (December 8, 2003) were approved by consensus.

Access to Academic Materials for Print-Disabled Post-Secondary Students

T. Lucy provided the Council with an update on this project which is in its final stages of completion. The project is a partnership between the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC), the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education (CADSPPE), and the Council.

The main goals of this important national research were to gather current information on the accessibility, availability, timeliness, and quality of educational materials in alternate formats for post-secondary students with print disabilities. Further, the aim was to identify gaps related to the provision and delivery of academic materials, in a format of choice.

Two separate surveys were distributed to post-secondary schools across Canada -- one to students, and one to service providers and all data has now been collected.

A workshop on the project and the issues was held at the NEADS Conference on November 12, 2004. In conjunction with the Conference CADSPPE held a focus group for post-secondary disability services staff who support print disabled students on campus. The results of these events will be included in the research.

The end product of the research will be a detailed report addressing how services and materials may be better co-ordinated and used, identifying gaps in the process of supporting academic materials requirements for post-secondary students with print-disabilities. The report will also identify the next steps to be taken towards better services for print disabled students. The final report and analysis will be completed by May. The full report will be available in PDF and HTML on the NEADS website.

Copies of the final report will be made available to Council members.

Action: Secretariat


P. Whitney and J. Hushion updated the Council on issues related to copyright. The Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage have been encountering frequent road blocks in their intent to move forward with changes to the Copyright Act. Advocacy and lobbying efforts have been intense, especially because the government is in a minority situation. The Government's stated intent is to proceed in the short term with measures to bring Canadian copyright legislation into line with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. In the short term, no changes affecting alternative formats for persons with print disabilities are expected although issues related to technological protection measures (TPM) may have implications. Publishers are supportive of the concept of lawful circumvention of TPM to avoid any negative impact on assistive devices. It is planned to introduce the Bill in the House in June 2005 but at that time it may not address all of the complex issues, particularly the question of the use of Internet for educational purposes.

M.F. Laughton spoke to some of the international issues. She noted that at the upcoming WIPO meeting, Chile would propose exceptions in the WIPO treaties for persons with print disabilities. The Canadian legislation is being looked at as a model and the Canadian delegation has been very supportive. Interlending of alternative format materials across international borders remains a serious issue, particularly for electronic materials.

The Council discussed these issues in relation to persons with learning disabilities (LD). Publishers are concerned about the number of persons claiming to have LD. Issues revolving around self-identification and inconsistent testing for LD as well as issues related to inconsistent funding for students with LD were discussed.

Libraries for the Blind and Print Disabled: Moving Toward a Digital Future (Microsoft Summit)

The Microsoft Corporation hosted a 3-day event last November to discuss challenges in realizing a vision of the global library for persons with print disabilities. There was a very strong international presence. CNIB was involved in the planning for this event as a result of Microsoft Canada's considerable investment in the development of CNIB Library's Integrated Digital Library System. While Microsoft's continuing role is not clear, it is committed to accessibility issues. The new Microsoft platform will embed new tools for accessibility. At the end of March, several of the participants will meet in London to further the initiative and to develop mandates for several special initiatives including federated search, communication and collaboration with publishers, copyright issues and shared collection development. CNIB and Microsoft Canada are also investigating the feasibility of making the CNIB system available to other libraries internationally.

Electronic Clearinghouse for Alternative Format Production

Funding for a pilot project from Social Development Canada has just been confirmed after lengthy negotiations. While it is clearly too late in the current fiscal year to undertake the pilot project, the funding has been made available to the Canadian Library Association up to the end of March 2006. Two consultants are being immediately engaged. Legal expertise will be provided by Andrew Martin to develop a standard agreement between alternative format producers and publishers. This will provide the key element for the development of a pilot project. In addition, a second contractor, Andy Oates, will provide project management.

National Network for Equitable Library Service for Canadians with Print Disabilities

Following the last meeting of the Council, the Canadian Library Association struck a Working Group to design a National Network for Equitable Library Service for Canadians with Print Disabilities (NNELS). The Working Group met for the first time in May 2004 by teleconference and has held one face-to-face meeting and several additional teleconferences. The work has been funded by Library and Archives Canada. The Working Group has developed a second version of a draft report which is being presented to the Council for approval in principle and input on further directions.

After a detailed discussion, the Council gave its approval in principle. The following issues were highlighted during the discussion:

  • it is crucial that key government agencies such as the Treasury Board be engaged in the process as early as possible;
  • the ultimate results should be emphasized;
  • the impact of digital distribution must be taken into consideration;
  • responsibility for the development and promotion of standards must be clear;
  • the focus on collaboration should be further emphasized
  • the report should have a stronger client focus;
  • issues related to governance and the roles and responsibilities of the various players should be clearer;
  • commercial sources of alternative format materials must be exploited;
  • there needs to be a greater emphasis on the relationships with publishers;
  • public libraries need to have a central role in the provision of audio materials but alternate forms of direct service must be considered for material such as braille.

Members' Updates

Gordon Platt, Acting Director General of Publishing Policy and Programs at Canadian Heritage joined the meeting. He explained that he was delighted that funding for the Clearinghouse Pilot Project had been provided as his sector is a strong supporter of the concept. He offered his help in encouraging publishers to participate in the project. He explained the BookNet Canada initiative and the relationship to digital technology which opens up many new possibilities including "quick-print technology." He also explained the "long tail" concept whereby the majority of books in print are not readily available in bookstores and the initiatives underway to ensure ongoing availability of this material. He offered to work with the Council to investigate ways that Canadian Heritage could be of assistance.

M.F. Laughton briefed the Council on the government's Accessible Procurement Toolkit, available on the Internet at She also explained that Web-4-All had been funded only until the end of March 2005. M.F. Laughton has also been working with the organizers to ensure that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games are fully accessible.

A. Vincent updated the Council on events taking place in Quebec. The SQLA (Service québécois du livre adapté) agreement was signed in June 2004. The Bibliothèque nationale du Québec will offer fully accessible services to all people in Quebec with print disabilities, effective April 4. Services are available for persons with all print disabilities, including learning disabilities. He also noted that BNQ has established a formal exchange agreement with CNIB and that production of audiobooks in Quebec had been converted to the DAISY standard.

J. Côté expressed his view that the needs of users with disabilities must be constantly considered. He explained that braille literacy is equivalent to print literacy and that technology solves only some of the problems.

V. Nikias announced that Cecelia Muir had been appointed as the new Director General of the Office for Disability Issues. He spoke about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which includes an article on libraries.

M. McGrory explained that CNIB had entered into a renewed partnership arrangement with BNQ for service to francophones and have installed a 1-800 bilingual service. CNIB has ceased analog production.

P. Webster noted that CAER would be meeting in Halifax in May. CAER has set up a server to exchange digital materials among all of its members.

P. Whitney noted that he had initiated a broader discussion with the Canadian Urban Library Council (CULC) on the National Network for Equitable Library Service for Canadians with Print Disabilities. He explained that the B.C. Government's Strategic Plan for Public Library Service Delivery provided for an increase in funding and for guarantees of service for marginalized or underserved consumers. This guarantee may include provision of Victor Readers for users. The additional funding may also permit a provincial license for the CNIB Visunet Service and coordination of centralized licensing for digital content.

Content Standards-Letter from R. Kavanagh

Last October, R. Kavanagh of CNIB wrote to the Chair and Secretary of the Council, asking for the Council's position on the Universal English Braille Code (UEBC) and the DAISY standard. Following circulation of the letter to Council members for their consideration, written responses were received from both N. Graham and D. Passey. D. Passey had discussed the letter with her colleagues in the Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres for Alternate Format Materials (CAER) who jointly prepared a response, now tabled by D. Passey.

M. McGrory noted that the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped had awarded a contract to CNIB for the conversion of analog audiobook masters to digital form and that the conversion would be done according to the DAISY/NISO 2005 standard.

The ensuring discussion emphasized the continuing need for open and collegial discussion on issues of standardization. There was also a strong emphasis on the needs of users expressed by several Council members with print disabilities and that these needs had not yet been fully explored with the larger print disability community.

The Council agreed that it was premature to endorse these standards and therefore inappropriate for the Council to take a stand. The Council reaffirmed, however, the need to continue to promote additional research and re-emphasized that user needs must drive the agenda. The Council agreed by consensus to respond to R. Kavanagh by saying that the Council did not consider it appropriate to unilaterally endorse a particular standard, wishing to ensure flexibility for the end user. The Council also agreed to strongly encourage open and collegial dialogue among all parties.

Council Membership

There was a brief discussion on Council membership. R. Manning agreed to complete a review of the membership and invited members to make suggestions. He reminded the Council that Mr. Wilson, in his introductory remarks, noted that it would be beneficial to include an archivist on the Council. In view of the major changes at Library and Archives Canada, a review of the Council's mandate in relationship to LAC should also be undertaken.