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Report of Workshop on Resource Sharing Services for Print Disabled Canadians

October 26-28, 2001 Workshop

1. Introduction

The concept of this workshop arose from discussions on the part of the Council on Access to Information for Print Disabled Canadians. At its May 2001 meeting in Ottawa, a sub-committee of the Council explored mechanisms for the implementation of some of the recommendations (9, 20, and 26) of the Report of the Task Force on Access to Information for Print Disabled Canadians These 3 recommendations were directed at the National Library of Canada and concern the sharing of resources used by print disabled Canadians.

In keeping with the NLC leadership role in the areas of resource sharing and access, library staff undertook to plan an invitational workshop that brought advocates, clients, service providers and producers of materials together in a fruitful dialogue focused on identifying national solutions to critical issues. Over the course of a weekend, 28 participants from across Canada listened and learned, shared pride in accomplishments and frustrations at limitations, identified major concerns and collaborated on a set of well-thought out recommendations for action on them. The following report outlines the activities and results of this workshop.

2. Brainstorming

Following the morning presentations, the group began its initial brainstorming on identifying key issues, taking into consideration the replies to the questions that participants had been asked to prepare before the workshop.

Each participant was asked to come to this meeting with answers to two questions:

  1. In sharing materials and providing services for print disabled Canadians, what are you most proud of?
  2. What is the greatest barrier to sharing resources and providing services?

* Note: Users of the resources and services were asked to identify what they most appreciated and what continues to be the greatest barrier to timely, affordable access to materials and services

Here is "What was said"

2.1 What we are most proud of /appreciate

Jim Looney: We established a national network of sharing for distribution of alternate format titles to users.

Jennison Assuncion: Having access to online e-texts and a scanner to create personal alternative format materials when I need them.

Joby Fleming: We are moving forward; my experience on the Council has shown me that I can look forward to graduating with independence and my ability to fulfill professional ambitions.

Susan Vida: Personally, having availability of E-format in plain text format; I can get what I want when I want it and read it where I am comfortable. I have the technology support to read in 4 of the 6 languages I read and speak, and a scanner that enables me to create e-text from material that is not available in alternative format. We should take pride in what we have accomplished…we are ahead of many countries.

Mary Bond: The National Library of Canada (NLC) is able to offer alternate format materials to our users.

Donna Passey: I am most proud of the Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres (CAER), and our ability to share, despite different and sometimes difficult circumstances.

André Vincent: New technologies are now available and more accessible. Public libraries will play an increasingly important role in the future in providing alternative format materials and technologies to people who are unable to obtain them through school or work.

Paul Henri Buteau: Partnerships

Shelagh Patterson: CNIB's good relationships with national and international partners

Huguette Lussier-Tremblay: Free AMICUS, (the NLC data base of over 20 million records)

Rosemary Griebel: That we have taken a holistic approach at Calgary Public Library, integrating technologies and service delivery to the disabled into the mainstream, not treating it as special services.

Patricia Derrick: It is an achievement to provide services to students with disabilities.

Irene Lambert: The federal government provides information in alternate format without demanding proof of disability or establishing criteria: 1-800-O-Canada and Publiphone in Quebec are very useful.

Joan Wolforth: Disability service providers have been able to improve their service and understanding even though there are not yet standards ; That there is flexibility in disability services providers thanks to greater understanding Bobby testing assists in the evaluation of websites to identify their accessibility. The rise in numbers of students indicates that more doors have opened. Mainstream producers of alternate formats assist other producers Free resource sharing services

Ryan Klomp: Education and information are basic to a democratic society; proud that CNIB Library, through its library for clients and through its partnership program serves learning disabled persons; 1-800 English and French, Reference service with no operating grants from the public sector

Mary Frances Laughton: The first page of the new draft federal communications policy includes alternate format directives; The Manager's Guide to Multiple Formats will be released in December 2001.

Colette Wilson & Leslie Muirhead : We have kept Hamilton Public Library welcome to everyone, including people with disabilities; cannot take that for granted everywhere.

Victoria Owen: The leadership and partnership of the CNIB library.

Heather Cross: Improvements in university services through Canadian Association of Disabilty Service providers in Post-Secondary Education (CADSPPE) through relationships and partnerships

Kristi Saumure - The availability of e-info and e-texts

Marjorie Theodore: Personal service at La Magnétothèque.

Colette Gudbranson: The learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) has established partnerships across the country; there is an increase in services for post-secondary education and workplace, with the federal government a big player; our success stories show the building of confidence of persons with learning disabilities

Peter Webster: What students and staff have accomplished with little or no funding. The sea change in library services… virtual libraries mean mainstreaming and leveling.

2.2 The greatest barrier to sharing resources and providing services

Jim Looney: Inadequate funding. So much energy goes into managing limited resources and trying not to duplicate.

Jennison Assuncion: The variability of funding across the country to produce text books. The high costs and length of time to produce alternate formats. Lack of binding legislation requiring publishers to support production of alternate formats and accessible websites. Inaccessibility of library systems and website. Lack of training for library front line staff from attitudes through to use of technology.

Joby Fleming: Attitudes are a barrier; the system does not accommodate who we are. Attitude is linked to decisions about where money goes - can have an impact on who is accepted into the education system.

Susan Vida: We need to have first generation materials available for scanning when we create our own e-text. For me personally, fear is an obstacle - I am so used to having technical aids and fear I will not have funding for them after finishing university. Having to prove eligibility for service is a problem.

Mary Bond: Lack of awareness about services that are offered - we need to know more about them so we can direct our users.

Donna Passey: There is a need for publisher's disks to be available for timely production. Jurisdictional boundaries are a barrier. So is lack of funding.

André Vincent - Le rôle et l'importance des bibliothèques publiques pour les citoyens. L'oubli des personnes qui sont au travail, ou sans emploi.

Paul Henri Buteau - Manque de volume et de marché pour ceux incapables de lire les imprimés.

Shelagh Patterson : Difficulties in achieving seamless access for users.

Huguette Lussier-Tremblay: Manque des ressources; importance du marketing

Rosemary Griebel: Compartmentalism of services; not taking a holistic approach

Patricia Derrick: Time to get issues resolved; too much red tape and bureaucracy.

Irene Lambert: Guichet unique pour les francophones; 1-800 number to find out what is available would help. Timeliness of materials is a challenge. Technology is not accessible to all - only if you are working or a student. And the technologies change rapidly; it is difficult for a person without a grant to keep up.

Joan Wolforth: Difficult to have national standards because of provincial boundaries. Attitudes are a problem. Need policies that guarantee rights. Definitions of disabilities vary. Technology to specialized areas such as science, so students have a choice of career, etc. Web accessibility.

Ryan Klump: lack of funding; institutional barriers; no national funding for adaptive technology.

Carol Smale: Policy of preservation vs. service copy at NLC; if only one copy is available, it is considered a preservation copy, not for lending.

Rosemary Kavanagh - There is a huge disconnect; not nationally organized or focussed. We do not engage with what is happening elsewhere; we are too insular. Failure of the library profession to advocate service for disabled persons. There is a perception that service is more expensive.

Mary Frances Laughton: The lack of budget for alternate format production at the federal level.

Colette Wilson: Lack of funding for alternative formats … an example to be looked at is the impact of provincial funding cuts on literacy programs/training on the illiteracy rates.

Victoria Owen: Lack of nationally co-ordinated service; incomplete reporting to AMICUS.

Heather Cross: Keeping up with technology; timely installation of Adaptive Technology; timely notice of titles needed; access to Braille books; and cost ; no centralized ordering or production location ( causes duplication); could we work with publishers to get e-files, more e-texts are needed.

Kristi Saumure: Inaccessible websites; timely access to e-info; more focussed approach in library schools needed.

Marjorie Théodore: Le marché est petit; combien de votes pour les deputés? En incluant ceux et celles avec des troubles d'apprentissage, les votes sont plus nombreuses.

Claudette Gudbrandson: 35% of students with learning disabilities drop out ( statistic does not include those who are not diagnosed) ; LD in a print oriented society ( e.g. difficulty in using libraries); how to access and use service is a problem; inadequate funding, education and training; affordable technology in the home; jurisdictional issues are a challenge.

Peter Webster: Funding; not enough available in alternate formats; why is there a disconnect, knowledge gap between students and staff on how, what; eligibility criteria; jurisdictional funding.

3. Common Themes from the Brainstoriming

It was agreed that the sharing of triumphs and disappointments had in fact resulted in the identification of some of the common issues that need to be addressed for more effective resource sharing strategies at the national level. Key issues that emerged from the brainstorming session were:

  • the need to know 'Who has what for whom under what conditions'
  • Lack of knowledge about diverse disabilities on the part of politicians, educators, the public
The need for more formal co-ordination through reporting and service delivery, with respect to:
  • Works in production
  • Partial works
  • Completed works
  • Interlibrary loan (ILL), Document Delivery
Lack of National Strategies for:
  • Definition of print disabilities
  • Provision
  • Production
  • Technology
  • Service
  • Training
Training on IT, available resources and services for:
  • Staff
  • Users
  • Intermediaries

    (School, home, workplace, community)

Content : The lack of content is a major issue that is related to all the topics.
Funding, particularly for production, dissemination and Adaptive Technology, is also a major issue that is related to all the other topics.

4. Planning Session

It was agreed that content and funding were prevailing issues for all areas.

For purposes of productive discussion towards the development of an action plan by smaller groups, the major issues were further synthesized as follows:

  • Co-ordination of collections, content and service
  • Awareness
  • Training

It was further agreed that some recommendations for further action had already been identified through the brainstorming and presentations. Items to be taken forward to the December meeting of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians were:

  • The development of a plan for production that is national in focus and reflects the digital environment
  • Improvement in accessibility of e-products, websites and databases

It was agreed that a large group would meet to develop recommendations for action on the subject of co-ordination of collections, content and service, while two smaller groups would examine each of two issues: awareness and training.

4.1 Reports on: Awareness and Training

Key Messages:

There is a lack of awareness about:

  • Range of needs of persons with disabilities
  • Types of disabilities that prohibit access to information
  • Means of providing services

Target Audiences:

  • Public and private sector
  • Education and library sectors
  • Policy analysts, politicians

Group One Discussion

Facilitator: Joby Fleming
Participants: Mary Bond; Patricia Derrick; Rosemary Kavanagh; Irene Lambert; Kristi Saumure; Colette Wilson.

Discussion - Awareness Issue

  • Look at examples like the 1990 campaign focussing attention on literacy issues.
  • Council should build on what exists - identify gaps and address them, e.g. create fact sheets on a variety of awareness issues.
  • We should be promoting /reminding that ALL Canadians have the right to access as a human right under the Canadian constitution and U.N declaration.
  • Target audience for these messages are: libraries and educational institutions (policy-makers and administrators); Council of Ministers of Education; commercial entities such as banks, retailers. Users are also part of the awareness audience; self-advocacy is more effective by knowing the facts and knowing what resources are available.

Discussion- Training Issue

  • Service providers need to know where to go, e.g. for training
  • We need to worry less about territory and more about co-ordination.
  • We want action based on developed standards.
  • Using existing resources will help create awareness of standards for awareness and training.
  • We need to get things happening now while people are listening.
  • A priority for this group's agenda and the Council mission is to expand the network of departmental champions in the federal government while we have their attention.

Group Two Discussion

Facilitator: André Vincent
Participants: Jennison Assuncion; Claudette Gudbrandson; Leslie Muirhead; Victoria Owen; Carol Smale.

Discussion- Awareness Issue

  • Awareness Campaign is needed.
  • Target groups should be front line library staff, end users and ultimately the general population.

4.2 Report on: Co-ordination of collections, content and service

Group Three

Facilitator: Donna Passey
Participants: Paul Henri Buteau; Heather Cross; Rosemary Griebel; Ryan Klomp ; Emilie Lowenberg; Jim Looney; Huguette Lussier-Tremblay; Shelagh Patterson; Marjorie Théodore; Susan Vida; Peter Webster; Joan Wolforth.


  • How to achieve co-ordination of collections and services at the national level;
  • Consider partnerships at the post-secondary level and partnerships to provide service through local public libraries.
  • Look at linkage between Anglophone and Francophone service providers, (Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ), NLC, etc ).
  • Ongoing development of AMICUS involving key people (audiotape producers) is a goal.

5. Recommendations to the Council

5.1. Action on Awareness and Training

  • The Council find a budget to start an awareness campaign that supports word of mouth advocacy as well as a formal campaign.
  • Write a series of articles - professional journals, conferences, PSAs, curriculum on college/universities; library listservs, and for end users, disabilities magazines and organization newsletters.
  • Hold focus groups and online training seminars.
  • Use existing mechanisms to do training, e.g. the Canadian Library Association.
  • Hold Disability Awareness Day at libraries, deploying users.
  • Use Web Awareness model to deliver training and current information.
  • Update the NLC publication Accessible Canadian Library.
  • Create an independent website on access to libraries and their services, with information/links to other agencies (NLC).
  • For front line staff: develop trainers; workshops, training videos
  • For end users: use mainstream media, PSAs, TVs, radio, local bus poster campaigns, 1-800 line.
  • Plan Disability Awareness Day in Libraries: Target date is 2003.

5.2 Recommendations for Action on Training

  • The Council should develop a national strategy for training users, staff (on equipment, resources), building on what already exists.
  • The Council should look at provincial programs, partnerships with other agencies (CNIB, LDAC). Explore a partnership with CNIB and seek funding for training programs to be delivered through the 66 CNIB sites across Canada.
  • Create a National Network, a clearing house of information of what training is currently available and where it is found.

5.3 Recommendations for Action on Co-ordination of collections, content and service

  • Council to request that National Librarian set up a formal linkage with BNQ
  • Set up working groups to develop and discuss issues in the post-secondary and public library sectors (CAER model). Timeline: end 2001 for post-secondary sector; February 2002 for public library sector.

6. Conclusions and Next steps

Following the presentations by the facilitators of each group's discussions and recommendations, the participants reviewed next steps and provided some preliminary evaluation of the workshop format, with the agreement that a formal evaluation form should be included with the workshop report.

6.1 Next steps

  • Set up a mechanism for information sharing for Group 3 (working group on co-ordination).
  • Create report of the weekend's activities.
  • Set up listserv for the workshop participants.
  • Look at other possibilities for meeting by teleconference or at other venues.
  • Set up a mechanism for evaluation.

Thanks were extended to the Council and NLC for hosting the workshop.

Prepared by Leacy O'Callaghan-O'Brien and edited by Gwynneth Evans.

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