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Minutes of Meeting Held on
April 13 and 14, 2002
National Library of Canada, Ottawa

Members Present:
Jacques Côté
Joby Fleming (April 13 only)
Elizabeth Gayda
Gaëtan Lévesque
Donna Pletz Passey
Monique Smith
Karen Taylor
André Vincent
Peter Webster
Paul Whitney, Chair

Robert Fenton

Gwynneth Evans (Toolkit for advocacy item only)
Sean Foyn, Department of Canadian Heritage
Kathy Korpolinski (RFB&D item only)
Emilie Lowenberg, National Library of Canada
Carol Smale, National Library of Canada (April 13 only)
Justine Thomson (RFB&D item only)

Policy Advisors:
Donna Achimov (April 13 afternoon only)
Louise Guertin (April 13 only)
Mary Frances Laughton
Vangelis Nikias
Deborah Tunis (April 13 only)

Monique Chamberland, National Library of Canada
Ralph Manning, National Library of Canada (Secretary)
Ann Guthrie, National Library of Canada


The Chair welcomed the Council to its fourth meeting and everyone present introduced themselves. The Chair requested a number of modifications to the order of the agenda and several new items were added. The order of items remained flexible throughout the meeting to accommodate the members and guests. On a motion moved by E. Gayda, seconded by G. Lévesque, the minutes of the third meeting (December 6-7, 2001) were approved by consensus.

Resource Sharing

P. Webster led the discussion on resource sharing issues. Two primary issues emerged from the discussion. The first was the need for a consistent approach to the provision of resources to the Print-Disabled community. Users are currently unable to expect a consistent degree of service at the institutions that they may approach, such as public libraries and post-secondary institutions. Some services providers are unaware of AMICUS, the national union catalogue, and of their ability to use this tool for identifying material available to be shared between institutions. A minimum standard that would outline both institutional obligations and tools for sharing is essential. Many institutions are called upon to serve disabled users very infrequently so they require some assistance in maintaining their knowledge and skills in this area. A minimum standard could be used as a brief "fact sheet" for such institutions. Such a standard is being developed by CADSPPE and a draft will be made available to the Council.

Peter Webster

The second issue that emerged from this discussion was the need for users to be aware of their rights. When institutions are unaware of their obligations or unable to maintain the skills or knowledge, users must be in a position to assert their rights to access to information. The supply of services will not be there if there is no demand. The lack of information about what is available to users and suppliers alike, could be alleviated by information sessions and by the minimum standard mentioned earlier. J. Fleming noted that training is an issue-library schools and schools of education must give attention to the rights of users with disabilities.

V. Nikias pointed out that standards and fact-sheets would be helpful, but may not be the final solution, since technology may introduce complexities that cannot be overcome. A centralized troubleshooting service may be a valuable contribution.

Information sessions are being organized. There will be an information session at the June conference of the Canadian Library Association-several Council members will be speakers at that session which is being convened by R. Manning. J. Côté emphasized the need to work with the user communities for the various disabled groups.

Clearinghouse for E-Text Masters

In 1998 a study was done by the Book and Periodical Council (Report on options for making published materials more accessible to the visually impaired identifying CANCOPY as a key player in the development of a clearinghouse. There are significant obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is the variation in formats used by publishers, particularly educational publishers whose materials contain large number of graphic images which pose special problems. M.F. Laughton pointed out, however, that the time is right to progress this issue now that the NISO standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2002 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book) has been approved and published. K. Taylor expresses the concern for conversion routines and hopes that publishers will handle such routines from their formats to the NISO format rather than forcing a central agency to perform this labour-intensive task.

While the Council recognizes that new sources of alternative format material are emerging, e.g., Bookshare, it was emphasized that the idea of a clearinghouse as identified by the Council involved a publisher-to-producer interface for high quality, error-free, unabridged texts.

A key issue for publishers is the security of their files. Digital rights management is of importance in the development of a clearinghouse.

Following the discussion, the following motion developed by the Clearinghouse Working Group, moved by M. Smith, seconded by M.F. Laughton, is unanimously approved by the Council. Subsequent action will be undertaken by the Chair in collaboration with M. Smith and M.F. Laughton

Paul Whitney
Mary Frances Laughton
Monique Smith


It is resolved that the Council seek from the National Library* funding in the amount of a maximum of $20,000 to retain a consultant to review and report on the following issues:
(*Other possible funding sources are the Department of Canadian Heritage and the HRDC Social Partnership Development Programme.)

  1. The appropriate location for a Clearinghouse for digital files where Canadian publishers can deposit these files and multiple format providers will be able to access these files. The consultant will review the BPC report and from it and subsequent discussions will recommend the appropriate location. Locations to be considered include CANCOPY, National Library and CNIB among others.

  2. Determine the appropriate level of digital rights management that publishers consider necessary to participate in the Clearinghouse.

  3. Assess the costs involved in implementing the project including costs related to file conversion and file storage.

  4. Identify possible locations for a Clearinghouse in the French language market.

Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)

The Chair welcomed representatives from RFB&D, Kathie Korpolinski and Justine Thomson, and introduced the topic by noting that the Task Force recommended a national site license with RFB&D as a necessary component of a program to improve access to information for Print-Disabled Canadians. While we are looking for a long-term relationship with RFB&D, a pilot project is necessary to investigate scalability and other issues. Since their presentation to the Council in December 2001, RFB&D have had internal meetings to discuss the pilot for a Canadian site license. RFB&D currently provide about 1,100 titles to Canadian users; they see a pilot extending this number to about 2,500 books.

They are concerned about issues of scale and timing, particularly because they plan to launch their digital program in September with the announcement of available products in July.

K. Korpolinski described the differences between individual membership and institutional membership and outlined their plans to add a new category of "group membership" which would enable them to enroll Canada as a "group member".

RFB&D propose that the Council plan to send a delegation to Princeton in June in preparation for a fall launch of a Canadian project. For the June meeting, they ask us to be prepared to discuss three items:

  • Digital rights management. We will review the current status of Canadian law and the digital copyright consultations currently underway.

  • Project management. How will the Canadian project be managed.

  • Certification. They need to know how the agencies covered under the agreement will certify users, including all categories of Print-Disabled. They would like to see examples of the certification documents that we now use.

A concern expressed by the Council was what impact such a site license would have on current individual Canadian users of RFB&D. We would not wish to create new impediments for them by requiring them to go through an agent rather than dealing with RFB&D directly as they do now. K. Korpolinski assured the Council that that intend to continue to service existing clients through any pilot project, and probably thereafter. Nevertheless, this may still be an issue in the future as new individual users may not have the ability to go directly to RFB&D for service.

The Council noted that one of the impediments to making appropriate decisions was the lack of adequate information on the user population in Canada. There is a need to gather information on the number of Print-Disabled users in Canada and to determine a way of qualifying the degree of disability in order to gauge the need for different formats. The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada has developed a new definition which will be made available to the Council.

Action: J. Fleming

It is necessary to determine what data can be provided by Statistics Canada, particularly from the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), the post-censal survey currently underway.

A national site license for Canada would be used by RFB&D as a model for broader future international cooperation and this gives added importance to these negotiations.

The Council discussed the issues that would need to be considered in developing a Canadian site license with RFB&D. These included the possibility of providing a more equitable access to materials to all Print-Disabled users by a central agency, probably a federal government agency. Since institutional membership is available only in the United States, only through individual memberships can users have access to RFB&D. This means that organizations such as CNIB and universities cannot borrow on behalf of their clients which would help to eliminate an additional barrier to access to alternate formats. The selection of central agencies to administer a national site license would have to take into account the needs of all users and E. Gayda points out the lack of intermediary agencies for certain members of the community such as the learning disabled.

The Chair pointed out that RFB&D will launch its digital program in September. This involves an entirely new set of issues and we must remember that any pilot study with RFB&D will involve analog materials only.

It was agreed that the cost of the pilot study would be for the management of the program and the analysis of the results of the pilot. Direct costs would continue to be passed on to the client or their agent.

While a single body would be the central contact for Canada, we are in a position to subcontract the work to other groups, possibly on a provincial basis. V. Nikias, J. Côté and others urged the Council not to let such concerns stop us from moving forward on the pilot which has the potential of greatly facilitating access in the future to material for the Print-Disabled in Canada.

The Council agrees to send a delegation to RFB&D in late June. Delegates will be selected in the next few weeks. J. Fleming and E. Gayda urge that a user representative be included. In the short term, the team listed in the workplan with M.F. Laughton as chair and R. Manning as secretary will prepare the necessary material for the meeting.

Mary Frances Laughton

M.F. Laughton and L. Guertin will meet to coordinate the collection of information on copyright in consultation with M. Smith.

Louise Guertin
Mary Frances Laughton
Monique Smith


The Chair introduced this topic by outlining the open consultations currently underway across the country on digital copyright issues. A government discussion paper was used to focus the discussions. In all of the consultations, a number of common issues emerged including the need to avoid impeding access for Print-Disabled users through the use of technological protection measures.

The Government is committed to review the Copyright Act under Section 92 and a list of approximately 70 issues has been identified. These will be documented in a report to the Standing Committee in September. The Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians had identified two issues of concern: closed captioning of cinematographic works and large print which are currently not excluded. The Council agrees that the Chair will write to the Department of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada alerting them to these concerns and requesting that they be addressed as part of the Section 92 review. This letter would be written in the context of the position that was developed and approved by the Task Force, always recognizing that copyright exemption would only apply when commercial copies are not available. M. Smith expressed the concerns of her constituency which takes the position that they should retain the rights, without exception, to large print editions of their works.

P. Whitney

B.C. Audiobooks Program

The Chair noted that national attention has been drawn to issues related to the Print-Disabled by the decision of the BC government to cancel its audiobook program as a result of a "core services review". This is a program that has been producing 200 unabridged audiobooks per year which were distributed across the country. The Public Library Services Branch coordinated a submaster swap arrangement with CNIB. This resulted in the availability of 400 titles for the Print-Disabled community in British Columbia. There has been a huge groundswell of consciousness-raising about the needs of the Print-Disabled community and advocacy efforts have been intense. While the government is seeking to minimize the impact of this decision, the minister continues to believe that it is not the role of the British Columbia government to produce audiobooks. The government is proposing that the 17 public library members of Interlink in lower-mainland BC maintain the existing collection, including submasters and duplicating equipment. Discussions are also underway within Interlink regarding contracts for ongoing new title audiobook production.

The Chair has been asked to bring to this Council the question of how to dispose of the collection of 7000 masters now held by the Library Services Branch of the BC government. The Council is, however, reminded that we are an advisory group to the National Librarian and our advice should therefore be to him. The two most likely repositories are the National Library of Canada and CNIB. The Council generally recognizes that depositing this collection with the National Library could have the effect of kick-starting a program within the National Library for Print-Disabled Canadians and might also expedite the acquisition of additional government funding for digitization of this collection. R. Manning also noted that the National Library already sees the preservation of Canada's heritage as one of its strategic priorities and the Library has considerable expertise in preservation. K. Taylor notes that the issue of accessibility of the material for reformatting is important and that CNIB is already in this business. E. Lowenberg points out that from the point of view of accessibility, service copies of this material are already available through interlibrary loan from the National Library. A. Vincent and others urge the Council not to pass a resolution that assumes that advocacy efforts to reinstate the program will fail; this is an opportunity for the Council and the National Library to demonstrate leadership. As a result of this discussion, the Council passed the following motion, moved by P. Webster and seconded by E. Gayda:


It is resolved that the Council Chair advise the National Librarian that the Council continues to support the advocacy efforts to maintain the BC Audiobook Program but, should the BC Government proceed with its stated intention to eliminate the Program, that the National Librarian accept the audiobook master tapes for preservation storage with the understanding that this collection will be accessible as appropriate for a master tape collection.

Paul Whitney

Toolkit for Training and Advocacy

G. Evans joined the Council to outline a proposal for a professional research project. The project would have three parts.

  • A survey to identify information and training materials held by service providers. The information would be collected.

  • An assessment of the materials collected to identify strengths, assess their currency and applicability to various audiences, identify gaps and identify opportunities to use the material for training sessions.

  • Consultations based on the assessment with users and service providers.

The deliverables would include the database of information as well as recommendations for further action.

This proposal is intended to overcome the difficulties that were identified in the Council's recent resource sharing workshop, particularly the variety of understanding of issues among users, producers and other service providers, and the general public. Much information exists but it has never been gathered together for easy access. While the initiative should come from this Council, the results will be practical research with long-term benefits. In addition, this project would demonstrate to the government of Canada the fact that this Council has succeeded in harnessing the energy of various communities.

G. Evans notes that she has consulted with a number of organizations and in particular, she advises the Council that NEADS (National Educational Association of Disabled Students), CADSPPE (Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education) and LDAC (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada) are ready to work together. Several have annual meetings in the near future and would be able to lend support to this project.

Several members of the Council spoke in favour of this proposal and there was expressed unanimous support. The Council notes that G. Evans is prepared to continue to be involved in the development of this proposal but that she is not prepared to be the consultant. The following motion, moved by D. Passey, seconded by A. Vincent, was approved unanimously.


Based on the presentation by G. Evans, the Council supports the proposal in principle and asks the Secretariat to work with G. Evans and members of the Council to further develop the proposal and to identify funding sources.


The Chair notes that action on this motion will be well underway before the next Council meeting in the fall.

Federal Disability Agenda

D. Tunis provided the Council with an update on the Federal Disability Agenda. She noted that while there is progress, it is not as fast as had earlier been hoped, particularly since the last federal budget was very oriented toward security issues. She did note, nevertheless, that the budget included an increase in study grants for students with disabilities. She also touched upon the following issues:

  • Revitalization of the Office for Disability Issues;

  • The preparation of a Federal Disability Report; and

  • Movement on the Labour Market Study

Federal Disability Portal

M.F. Laughton provided the Council with an update on the Federal Disability Portal Developed by the Manitoba regional office of HRDC, the portal is a partnership with a number of federal departments under the aegis of the Government-on-line program. It was launched on March 28 and currently includes information on travel for disabled persons, accessible maps, assistive technology links and other disability web links. It is still under development.

She also replied that to the best of her knowledge which is more than a month old, that the roll-out of the Web4All project is planned for the spring. The software has been acquired and packaging of the product is well under way. She committed to getting a formal report for the Council.

Mary Frances Laughton

Communication Canada

Welcome to Communication Canada: Powerpoint Presentation
[PDF 325 KB]

D. Achimov, Director General, Public Access Programs, Communication Canada, gave a presentation to the Council on the government's program to improve communications with Canadians. They are particularly attuned to the needs of Canadians with special needs; she notes that there is considerable momentum in ensuring that websites are accessible.

In a separate intervention, M.F. Laughton noted that applying pressure to government departments is resulting in an increase in web accessibility.

Council Communications

The Council notes with pleasure that the Council's website has been revised and updated and that it is now current. The Secretariat is requested to prepare the minutes of this meeting as soon as possible. The second issue of AccessInfo will be prepared shortly and will consist of an updated version of the Accomplishments document now on the Web.


It was agreed that the two listservs for resource sharing would be eliminated and that only two public listservs will be retained: Accessinfo and Accespourtous. In addition, the Council closed list will be retained for Council business.


Council Membership

P. Webster notes the need for full-time support for the Council which is not currently available. The Chair acknowledges the invaluable contributions of A. Guthrie. The Council requests the Chair to raise the issue of the future of the Secretariat with the National Librarian.

Paul Whitney

The Council agrees that V. Nikias should remain as a Policy Advisor to the Council in his new role as Special Advisor, Office of the Director General of the Office for Disability Issues, HRDC.

It is moved by M. Smith, seconded by E. Gayda, that the Chair suggest to the National Librarian that it would be useful in forwarding the Council's work if G. Evans were appointed to the Council.

Paul Whitney

A Policy Advisor from Treasury Board is needed. The Chair will pass this request on to the National Librarian.

Paul Whitney

It is noted that D. Achimov was responsible for the Depository Services Program and Government communications when she was appointed as Policy Advisor to the Council. She now has new responsibilities and will contact the Secretariat to suggest a new representative.

D. Achimov

Library Book Rate

The issue of the Blind Post rate was deferred because the Library Book Rate was being reviewed. The Library Book Rate which provides reduced postage for print materials to encourage resource sharing has been extended for three years. In addition, the Department of Canadian Heritage is undertaking a study of the Book Rate. The Blind Post Rate which was originally intended for Braille material has been extended to all materials for the blind, including audiobooks. P. Webster suggests that we approach Canadian Heritage to negotiate a change to the regulations that they have with Canada Post to allow free post for materials for all print disabled Canadians. A. Vincent points out that in Quebec the definition has already been changed to "perceptually disabled". He will provide the evidence of this change to the Council.

A. Vincent

R. Manning notes that a colleague in the National Library is a member of the Canadian Heritage advisory group looking into the Library Book Rate. A draft of the consultant's report was received this week and he will follow up with her on these issues. The Council should write to Canadian Heritage about the appropriate wording. R. Manning will investigate the situation to provide clarity to the issue and will advise the Council which can then take appropriate action. If Blind Post rate can be extended to those with perceptual disabilities, the Council should make this known widely.



R. Manning and M.F. Laughton suggest changes in the format of the workplan. K. Taylor suggests that the recommendations be placed in numerical order. After several suggestions were made, the Secretariat was asked to prepare a new version.


Noting that Recommendation #2 is in Group C (Recommendations which can be the focus of presentation and discussion at one of the next meetings), J. Fleming requests that it be considered. K. Taylor notes that this is an enormous issue since CNIB is not easily in a position to change its name and mandate. Moreover, the CNIB would not be able to cope with the huge increase in demand without significant new funding. The Task Force recognized that this was a provocative recommendation and would have to be dealt with in the longer term, but it was reflective of the very strong representations that it received during the consultations. P. Webster notes that national centralized direct services do not necessarily have to be from a single source but could be from a partnership or a series of coalitions. It is agreed that this will be on our agenda no later than spring 2003; input from the Training and Advocacy Project approved earlier should inform this issue.

Member's Updates

K. Taylor notes that the BC Audiobooks issue has been CNIB's largest priority in the past few months. She announces that two books will shortly be issued simultaneously in Braille, audio, regular print and large print. This will be a signal to the print disabled community because they will have access to these books as soon as they are released. She will be visiting NLS soon and will have the opportunity to speak with Bookshare at the same time. She will report back to Council on this visit. Margaret McGrory has been appointed Executive Director, CNIB Library for the Blind.

E. Gayda notes that the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada has been focusing on employment issues. A major issue is the need by the Print-Disabled communities for access to work manuals in alternate formats in order to do their jobs adequately.

D. Passey notes that CAER will be meeting in May in Regina. A major issue for them is the blank media levy which greatly increases the cost of CD production.

P. Webster reiterates the work being done by the Council of Atlantic University Libraries to develop a common standard for disabled users. CADSPPE (Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education) and CLA conferences will have sessions on disabled users.

Jacques Côté announces the availability of five new products of interest to the Print-Disabled community including support packages to enable visually disabled people to closely follow Formula One races.

A. Vincent explained the concerns of the Quebec disabled community with regard to the changes at La Grande Bibliothèque du Québec which is being merged with the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec under the name Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. The Chair responds that the Council would appreciate any guidance from A. Vincent or his Quebec colleagues in ways that the Council can support Print-Disabled users in Quebec.

A. Nikias notes that the Office for Disability Issues became a Directorate last year. It is also noted that CNIB has posted the position of director for government relations and international liaison in Ottawa.

Next Meeting

The Chair notes that it is premature to determine the date of the Council's next meeting which will take place some time in the fall of 2002. If a Canadian site license is successfully negotiated with RFB&D by the fall, the next meeting could be scheduled in order to coincide with a signing ceremony.

It is agreed that the Council should hold a future meeting in Toronto and in Montreal where we would be able to combine the meetings of the Council with visits to major facilities.