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This report defines the Vision and Implementation Plan for a Clearinghouse for Print-Disabled Canadians. The report addresses the priorities and requirements of the Council for Print-Disabled Canadians, the publishing community, and the alternate format producers. This report is the culmination of three months of consultations with members of the Council and representatives of the publishing and alternate format producers. During meetings and interviews, information was gathered on book and alternate publication processes, the priorities of those involved in this process and their impressions of the Clearinghouse project and how it should be applied to their environment. The response we received was very positive. The study participants had put a great deal of effort into thinking about the issues and had imaginative and well thought out suggestions that are reflected in the report.
The report summarizes the findings from the consultations, and it proposes a vision and implementation plan for a clearing house to act as an e-text repository between book publishers and alternate format producers. It also provides an approach for implementing this vision. Based on the proposed vision a set of options and costs for putting the components in place and recommendations for how to proceed are defined.
This report was developed over a 3 month period. It was based on the significant work done by the Book and Periodical Council in 1997-98, the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians and the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. Below is the background on the work done by these groups over the last five years that has enabled the development of the vision of a Clearinghouse for Print-Disabled Canadians.
Report to the Book and Periodical Council
The development of a Vision for a Clearinghouse for Print-Disabled Canadians began in 1998 with the Report to the Book and Periodical Council on Options for Making Published Materials More Accessible to the Visually Impaired.
In response to a request from the Canadian publishing industry, the Book and Periodical Council (BPC) undertook the study in order to determine ways in which the publishing industry can assist in making published materials more accessible to the Print-Disabled. This was with a focus on providing these materials in an electronic format. The report explored the situation in 1997 in the publishing community, looked at the issues that would have an impact on the creation and transfer of e-text between publishers and alternative format publishers and developed a set of recommendations.
The findings and recommendations of the BPC report identified the opportunity to establish a Clearinghouse that would exist to house the electronic text from the publishers and make it available to the alternative format publishers.
The recommendations from the BPC report were not implemented at the time. This was due to a number of factors including; technology readiness; standardization in formats; a forum for participation that involved all stakeholders; and the immature nature of the e-text market.
Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians
In 2000 the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians published a report; Fulfilling the Promise: Report of the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/accessinfo/005003-4100-2001-e.html)
The report proposed a number of recommendations to improve access to information for the Print-Disabled community in Canada.
Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians
In response to recommendations made by the Task Force, on February 22, 2001, National Librarian Roch Carrier announced the establishment of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians to be representative of all stakeholders including consumers.
The Council's role is to provide advice, identify funding requirements, monitor progress and make recommendations regarding the implementation of the Task Force's report.
The Council recognizes that all Canadians have the right to access information in timely, affordable and equitable manner. Yet, the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians found that three million Canadians are Print-Disabled. Print disabilities prevent people from reading standard print due to a visual, perceptual or physical disability. Thus they need print material in alternate formats (e.g., Braille, audio, large print) and accessible electronic resources to meet their information needs.
The Council developed a Work Plan in May 2002 to address the recommendations from the Task Force report. Of particular focus was Recommendation 7 in which the Task Force recommended that the Government of Canada establish and fund a Clearinghouse for e-text to which Canadian publishers must make their works available.
As a result of this recommendation the Council is engaged in the development of a pilot project for a Clearinghouse for e-text to which Canadian publishers make their works available to alternate format producers, and initiatives designed to facilitate interlibrary loans and encourage the sharing of materials in alternate formats. The aim is to have as much material in the appropriate format in the hands of Print-Disabled Canadians in a timely and affordable manner.
The Council stressed the need for a secure repository for files relating to recommendation 7. A number of meetings have taken place. The council has initiated discussions with the Association of Canadian Publishers and with a group of educational publishers. Canadian Heritage and Library and Archives of Canada officials have been briefed. A pilot project is being planned. At its fourth meeting, the Council resolved to seek funding to retain a consultant to review and report on several issues related to a Clearinghouse, particularly the appropriate location for such a Clearinghouse.
In October 2002, the Council undertook a project to develop a Vision and Implementation Plan for a Clearinghouse for e-text. A presentation of the Vision and Implementation Plan was made to the Council at their December 2, 2002 meeting. The decision from the meeting was to approve the Vision and Implementation Plan and to document it in a report.
A number of representative organizations participated in the study. The goal was to ensure that all parties that are involved in the publishing and distribution of standard and alternative formats were represented. These organizations were:
Through an iterative interview process a draft vision and plan was developed and presented to each group. Using this method the vision and plan was continuously refined to reflect the perspective of each party.
The scope of the study was governed by the following considerations: