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Joby Fleming (by telephone, April 7, p.m. only)
Donna Pletz Passey
Paul Whitney (Chair)
Roch Carrier, National Librarian of Canada (April 7, a.m. only)
Sandy Foote, Consultant (by telephone, April 6, a.m. only)
Robin Grabell, Department of Canadian Heritage (April 6 p.m. only)
John Grace, Department of Canadian Heritage
Emilie Lowenberg, Library and Archives of Canada
James Sanders, CNIB (April 7, a.m. only)
Policy Advisors Present
Mary Frances Laughton
Pauline Myre (for Deborah Tunis) (April 6, p.m. only)
Michel Regnaud (for Deborah Tunis) (April 7 only)
Leila Fawzi, Library and Archives of Canada
Trisha Lucy, Library and Archives of Canada
Ralph Manning, Library and Archives of Canada (Secretary)
The Chair welcomed the Council to its sixth meeting and introduced a newly appointed member of the Council, Neil Graham. Jacqueline Hushion, also a newly appointed member, was unable to attend. Since the last meeting, Robert Fenton resigned from the Council. 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. The minutes of the fifth meeting (December 1-2, 2002) had been approved by correspondence.
P. Whitney updated the Council on the government initiative to review the copyright legislation. The process has not made significant headway in the Section 92 Review. A report from the fall of 2002 listed 90 topics for discussion, several of which related to alternative formats, including large print and captioned film, which is the subject of Task Force recommendations. Another item of interest to the Council is the question of technological protection measures. It appears likely that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will need to ask for an extension to its September deadline. Digital copyright reform continues to be discussed by the Department of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada and there may be a position paper in the near future.
P. Whitney also noted that copyright reform and issues related to persons with disabilities has been flagged several times by the Canadian Library Association.
The World Blind Union continues to attend meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is promoting a study on international standards for alternate formats. Indications are that publishers' associations are supportive of initiatives to permit the transfer of material across international borders for the benefit of disabled communities in other countries as long as appropriate protections are in place. As suggested at the last meeting of the Council, P. Whitney has written to Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada officials to thank them for their leadership on this issue.
R. Manning and J. Grace reported that the consultant's report prepared for the Department of Canadian Heritage on the Library Book Rate is still in the approval process. One of its recommendations is that the preferential rate be extended to audiovisual materials. P. Webster cautioned that such an extension could jeopardize the Blind Post Rate and reiterates the need to extend this free service to materials for all perceptually disabled persons. He has corresponded with Canada Post but has not yet had any meaningful response. Discussion ensued on the value of obtaining dollar amounts for these subsidies and determining the cost of extending the service. C. Moore suggests that a more appropriate course of action would be to make the case to appropriate officials that distribution of material to all Print-Disabled Canadians is a question of equitable access and therefore a basic right.
P. Webster reported that while a service standard is being worked on, there is nothing to report at this time. This generated discussion on a possible National File Format such as exists in the United States. CAER and CADSPPE are well-positioned to further the standardization issue. It was suggested that CAER and CNIB could pursue a national standard, noting that CAER will be meeting in early May. K. Taylor will discuss this with Janet Mee, Chair of CAER.
M.F. Laughton met recently with K. Korpolinski (RFB&D). She reported to the Council that RFB&D have not abandoned the hope of finding a meaningful relationship in Canada, but their priority is the development of their digital program and that they are very cautious about maintaining their trusted relationships with U.S. publishers. They are also anxious not to jeopardize the existing arrangements with individual Canadians.
P. Whitney explained that the Program was officially closed, effective the end of March. Equipment and submasters are being transferred to the Interlink office and Interlink has started the process of production with a target of 50 books for this year. Libraries can also provide additional funds to record specific titles. CNIB will exchange masters with Interlink and the titles will also be shared with the Library and Archives of Canada. R. Manning reported that ownership of the preservation masters had been transferred to the Library and Archives of Canada, but that they would remain in their existing storage facility in Vancouver until suitable space was available elsewhere.
The proposal to fund a program which would supply matching grants for the production of Braille and audio books was approved at the Council's previous meeting. It was presented to the National Librarian who immediately transmitted it to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He followed up a few weeks later with another letter emphasizing the importance of access to information for Print-Disabled Canadians. R. Grabell noted that the proposal is in the hands of the Portfolio Affairs Office in PCH and that analysis of the proposal would need to involve many other players both within PCH and across other Departments and Agencies. He suggested that reminding Members of Parliament of the needs of the print disabled community may assist the Council in this proposed initiative and in the Council's ongoing awareness-raising efforts. R. Grabell wondered about the existence of specific model programs or funding approaches in other countries that could be useful to the Council. While a query was raised with regard to the United Kingdom, K. Taylor noted that most other G-8 countries provide service to Print-Disabled citizens and will forward relevant information to R. Grabell.
S. Foote joined the Council by telephone for this item.
P. Whitney noted that he had received a letter from Brian Lendrum, challenging the Council to move quickly on an implementation strategy. E. Walcot-Gayda urged the Council not to lose an opportunity to consider the longer term by ensuring that the Clearinghouse could enhance direct service to the end user. She noted that she had written to CNIB to encourage closer collaboration between CNIB and the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. After some discussion about governance issues, it was agreed that we should avoid making governance an issue and simply proceed with a pilot project as soon as possible, ensuring participation of both francophone and Anglophone publishers. (Moved by G. Evans, seconded by A. Vincent). A working group of stakeholders should be organized to move forward. R. Manning will meet with J. Hushion and K. Taylor to discuss ways to proceed. G. Lévesque and A. Vincent will work with the National Librarian to ensure that there is a francophone component to the pilot project. K. Taylor will contact the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Council of Canadian Publishers to identify those publishers that are prepared to participate. The Vision and Implementation Plan for a Clearinghouse for Print-Disabled Canadians can be found at: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/accessinfo/005003-3000-05-2003-e.html
J. Fleming joined the Council by telephone for this item.
The concept paper presented at the fourth meeting by G. Evans was reformulated into a funding proposal and distributed to Council members prior to the meeting. It is proposed that NEADS (National Educational Association of Disabled Students) take the formal lead on this project and that LDAC and the Council be active partners. J. Fleming reported that NEADS was delighted to be part of the project and that it fits well with the NEADS mandate. M.F. Laughton noted that CADSPPE is also very interested in the project. Noting that adult learners in the K-12 system are not always well-served, there was a question about modifying the scope of this project to include that community. The Council endorses the project and appreciates the offer of NEADS to take the lead (moved by J. Fleming, seconded by P. Webster). R. Manning will complete a detailed plan of action and organize a meeting. C. Moore and E. Walcot-Gayda expressed their willingness to participate.
Pauline Myre, Director, Policy and Research in the Office for Disability Issues joined the meeting for this item and gave a presentation on the Federal Disability Agenda. The presentation can be viewed at: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/accessinfo/005003-3000-0406-2003-e.html.
M.F. Laughton reported to Council on a discussion she had had regarding Bookshare. Canadians are able to join Bookshare, but they will be given access only to that material which has been cleared for international use. For example, Bookshare has been given international rights by O'Reilly & Associates, a leading publisher of computer books. M.F. Laughton also noted that Bookshare appear ready to discuss the possibility of a Canadian Bookshare. She will continue to monitor this on behalf of the Council.
Action: M.F. Laughton
She also noted that Cory Galbraith has been engaged to undertake a review and update of the Managers Guide to Multiple Formats as well as the accompanying Tutorial.
Information Technology and Information Management standards development are increasing in the federal government and M.F. Laughton noted that accessibility issues will be included in this standards development from the beginning of the process.
Industry Canada's Web-4-All initiative, which combines hardware and software to quickly configure a public access computer to accommodate the special needs of a user and then back to a standard setting for the next user, is being released in pilots across the country. The first release was in February. Training is being done by youth. She noted that this is a successful project that the communities need and want. One thousand packages are being distributed, primarily through CAP (Community Access Program) sites. For more information visit the Web-4-All website at: http://web-4-all.ca/w4asite/english/home_e.htm
J. Côté reported that Braille Jymico Inc. is doing well and will soon move to new facilities. He noted that there will always be complementarity in alternate formats and that Braille and graphics will continue to co-exist with electronic files. He circulated sample copies of the type of graphic documents, which are produced by his company, explaining that graphic materials are often the basis of understanding text.
K. Taylor reported that part of the old CNIB site, in Toronto, has been sold and a new building will be built on the remaining site. As part of their systems development, a Business Process Reengineering has been completed to map old processes to the new digital environment and real improvements are expected. Microsoft has helped to develop a Children's' Portal.
A. Vincent reported that the collections of the Institut Nazereth et Louis Braille and the Magnétothèque will be centralized at the new Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. There is some concern about restrictions on service to francophones outside Quebec as well as the need to serve all perceptually disabled persons. The Magnétothèque has decided to convert to digital technology and is now looking for funding.
Roch Carrier, National Librarian, greeted the Council and welcomed its new members. He explained that he was proud to be the host of the Council and that it responded to one of his highest priorities, that is, to serve all Canadians. He explained the rationale for the creation of the new Library and Archives of Canada and emphasized the need to continue to work together to increase efficiency and innovation in providing service to Print-Disabled Canadians. He noted that he is counting on the Council to keep the Library and Archives informed about how well we are serving the community.
Jim Sanders, President and CEO of CNIB made a presentation to the Council. He explained that in his view the equivalent of the Gutenberg Press has now emerged for the print disabled community as a result of digital technology. Direct access to print can be made available to those with the training and equipment to use it. This comes with a cost, however, and while Canada has a superb public library system, it does not have a strong track record in providing service to Print-Disabled Canadians. The number of Print-Disabled Canadians is increasing and the expectations for service are increasing as Canadians become more aware of their rights and the new generation of elderly people has learned to expect more.
In order to undertake the necessary upgrade to its systems and move into the digital world, CNIB has had to cut back on acquisitions. Moreover, it will no longer be in a position to provide cost-free playback equipment for its users. This speaks directly to the need to find a model for a national partnership to put in place a nation-wide, equitable library service. The Council is urged to find ways to marshal their knowledge and skills to work in concert with all levels of government and the CNIB to develop partnerships, which will enable us to harness the resources of the country.
The following concrete actions were identified:
Finalize the Clearinghouse report
Invite R. Carrier to consult with Copibec and French-language publishers
Action: Secretariat, A. Vincent, G. Lévesque
Identify English-language publishers
Action: K. Taylor, J. Hushion
Complete Toolkit funding proposal and consult with CADSPPE
Action: Secretariat, E. Walcot-Gayda, C. Moore, G. Evans
Lobby at the local level for funding for alternate formats, using a single voice
Action: All members
Pursue the challenge launched by J. Sanders
Action: P. Whitney, Secretariat
Track developments regarding a Canadian Bookshare
Action: K. Taylor, N. Graham, M.F. Laughton
Transcribe J. Sander's remarks and edit
Send the Sanders transcription to key politicians and bureaucrats