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Access Info

ISSN 1499-3325

Bulletin of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians

Volume 1, No. 1, 2001

Welcome to Access Info, the bulletin of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. Access Info will be published irregularly in the following formats: e-text, large-print and Web, with braille and audiotape on-demand. This bulletin is aimed at Canadians who are or who work with Print-Disabled Canadians, to tell them of the Council’s work. It will also expand the network of support, expertise and development in this area. To this end, articles can be copied for other purposes as long as acknowledgement is given.

This, the first issue, provides an overview of the role of the Council and introduces some of its members.

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What is the Council?

In response to recommendations made by the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, on February 22, 2001, National Librarian Roch Carrier announced the establishment of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. The Council’s role is to provide advice, identify funding requirements, monitor progress and make recommendations regarding the implementation of Fulfilling the Promise: The Report of the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. At this time, the Council is actively 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.

Who are the members?

Membership of the Council is by appointment of the National Librarian. Representation comes from, but is not limited to: Consumers and consumer groups, publishers and alternate format producers (private and not-for-profit sectors), educational institutions and public libraries. Membership will be reviewed every three years. The Council will continue until disbanded, in writing, by the National Librarian. The current members of the Council are:


  • Paul Whitney, Chief Librarian, Burnaby Public Library, Burnaby, British Columbia.


  • Jacques Côté, President, Aides Cojatech  -  Braille Jymico Inc., Québec, Québec.
  • Robert Fenton, Calgary Police Service, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Joby Fleming, Student, Memorial University of Newfoundland and President, National Educational Association of Disabled Students, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
  • Elizabeth Gayda, President, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, Montréal, Québec.
  • Donna Pletz Passey, Coordinator, Blind and Visually Impaired Unit, Education and Training, Student Services. Department of Education, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • Monique Smith, Executive Director, Association of Canadian Publishers, Toronto, Ontario.
  • Alain Stanké, Président, Éditions Alain Stanké. Montréal, Québec.
  • Karen Taylor, Director  -  Production and Community Services, CNIB Library for the Blind, Toronto, Ontario.
  • André Vincent, Director General, Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ), Montréal, Québec.
  • Peter Webster, Head of Information Systems, Patrick Power Library, St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

To ensure appropriate links with the Federal Disability Agenda, the following individual officials, representing federal departments involved in issues related to access to information and Canadian content for the general public, serve the Council as senior policy advisors.

Senior Policy Advisors

  • Donna Achimov, Director General, Communication Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Deborah Tunis, Director General  -  Office for Disability and Issues, Human Resources Development Canada
  • Louise Guertin, Director General, Heritage Policy, Canadian Heritage
  • Mary Frances Laughton, Chief, Assistive Devices-Industry Office, Industry Canada
  • Vangelis Nikias, National Director  -  Government Relations & International Liaison, The Canadian National Institute for the Blind  -  Ottawa
  • James E. Page, Director  -  Innovation and Quality Services, Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat


Secretariat support to the Council is provided by the National and International Programs Branch of the National Library of Canada, under the direction of Gwynneth Evans, Director-General. Other National Library staff who assist the Secretariat are: Nicole Caissy; Emilie Lowenberg; Leacy O’Callaghan-O’Brien and Christina Jones.

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Meet Paul Whitney

Chair of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians

Paul Whitney has served as the Chief Librarian of the Burnaby Public Library for the past 12 years. In his 28-year career as a public librarian, his particular areas of interest have been collection development and copyright. These interests have led to his teaching courses on publishing and library collections at the University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and the Simon Fraser University Communications Department.

Paul has been active in library associations throughout his career and has served as President of both the Canadian and British Columbia Library Associations. He also currently sits on the Public Lending Right Commission and acts as Chair of the Copyright Forum, a group formed by 13 national education, library, archive and museum associations to address the federal government’s digital copyright initiatives.

When asked why he agreed to accept his appointment as Chair of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, he stated, "The challenges to be addressed by the Council clearly meshed with my interests in inclusive public library service, publishing and copyright. The promises of digital technology coupled with the commitment of the Federal Government to address access issues present a unique opportunity to make available a wide range of content for the approximately 3 million Canadians who cannot read regular print".

Paul Whitney can be contacted at:

6100 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, B.C.  V5H 4N5
Telephone: 604-436-5431

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Discover NEADS and CAER

The Council approaches its work with a great deal of care, and attention to the needs of Print-Disabled Canadians. Appropriately, then, the first two organizations to be profiled are NEADS and CAER. These organizations support young Canadians who, in furthering their education, are seeking independence and empowerment.


Contributed by Frank Smith, NEADS National Co-ordinator.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a consumer organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities. NEADS advocates for increased accessibility at all levels so that students with disabilities may gain equal access to a college or university education, which is the right of everyone. The Association provides extensive information on services for students with a disability nationwide, publishes a newsletter, and conducts research on issues of importance to its membership.

NEADS recently announced its priorities for 2001/2002, which will be implemented under the direction of the NEADS Board of Directors. Council member Joby Fleming is President of NEADS as well as Newfoundland’s representative on the NEADS Board. Of particular interest to the Council are priorities such as:

  • Promotion and distribution of a newly developed bibliography: A Survey of Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions’ Faculty Awareness Training Regarding Students with Disabilities: An Annotated Bibliography which will identify existing programs and recommend best practices in this area.
  • Publication of a new edition of Organization of Students With Disabilities Guidebook: Leadership in Our Community.
  • Following-up on the recommendations of the proceedings report from our 2000 national conference: Networking, Educating, Advocating: Delivering Success in the New Millennium.
  • Continuing to implement the recommendations of the report Working Towards A Coordinated National Approach to Services, Accommodations and Policies For Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Access to Higher Education and Career Training in consultation with HRDC, colleges and universities, provinces and service providers (as represented by the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers). A key second stage of this activity has been the creation of an online Accessibility Guide on CanLearn Interactive and partnership work in 2000/2001 with CanLearn Information Products Group to expand the resources available in the Guide.
  • Continued representation of the Association to important advisory bodies including: National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance; Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education (CADSPPE), Adaptech.

NEADS’ national office is located at:
Room 426 Unicentre
Carleton University
Ottawa, ON   K1S 5B6
Telephone: 613-526-8008 (Voice and TTY)
Fax: 613-520-3704


Contributed by Donna Pletz Passey, Co-ordinator, Blind and Visually Impaired Unit, Education and Training, Student Services. Department of Education, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

We are normally a quiet, unassuming group of specialty librarians and teachers, technicians, Braillists and clerks. We work to ensure that students in each province receive their textbooks in a timely manner in the appropriate alternate format  -  be it braille, large-print, audiotape, or e-text. We are the Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres for Alternate Format Materials, or CAER.

The Provincial Education Ministries in each province fund the individual resource centres in order that they may circulate and/or produce alternate format books for children and some young adults who are visually impaired attending schools in their province. Through CAER, our association, these special books are loaned across the country, reducing the amount of time that students would otherwise have waited to receive a book and eliminating the need to produce a title from scratch.

To draw an example of the service provided, let us pretend that a student in Halifax requires a Grade 4 Math book in alternate format for the following fall. The student’s teacher would contact their alternate format resource centre at APSEA, the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority. APSEA would search their library for the book. If APSEA does not have the book, they would go to the public AMICUS database and search for the required title. The title may be available for loan from another CAER provincial resource centre, or for lease at a few other sites like LOUIS (a U.S database), or Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, or CNIB. APSEA would then ask permission to borrow or lease the title from the other library. If the title is not available anywhere, then the resource centre will either produce the book itself, or contract to have the book produced for the student. Once a CAER resource centre produces a book, it enters it as a title for loan through AMICUS and our combined resources continue to grow. This has become such a seamless process, that most students do not realize how they’ve received their books…the books just mysteriously arrive.

CAER resource centres rely heavily on the National Library of Canada’s database AMICUS CANUC:H to post titles of alternate format books so that our libraries may find and share these precious resources. AMICUS has recently been made free to its subscribers through the National Library. CAER strongly encourages both public and private libraries to contact Emilie Lowenberg at the National Library to have their alternate format titles posted. CAER has proven that if a library is able to share alternate format titles, increases to the speed and efficiency of service as well as cost savings can be realized.

Since education is the responsibility of each Provincial Government, CAER and the inter-Provincial participation of the resource centres have been voluntary since 1993. Each resource centre has its own mandate and eligibility requirements. In order to access books in alternate formats, or should there be any questions, teachers need to contact the resource centre in their province.

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Following is the list of resource centres and their managers:

British Columbia

Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired  -  PRCVI
(Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Fred Poon
Telephone: 604-269-2205

Crane Resource Centre
Disability Resource Centre
University of British Columbia
Manager: Janet Mee
Telephone: 604-822-8950

BC College and Institute
Library Services  -  CILS Langara College
Manager: Mary Anne Epp
Telephone: 604-323-5627


Learning Resources Centre
(Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Kathryn Ribeiro
Telephone: 780-427-5212


Saskatchewan Education, Training & Employment
(Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Ellen Basler
Telephone: 306-787-5998


Special Materials Services
(Kindergarten to Post-Secondary)
Manager: Donna Pletz Passey
Telephone: 204-945-7840


W. Ross Macdonald School
Manager: Bob Minnery
Telephone: 519-759-2522


Institut Nazareth et Louis Braille  -  INLB
(Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Paul Henri Buteau
Telephone: 450-463-1710

Centre Albert-Ouellet (Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Guylaine Rainville
Telephone: 418-622-7813

Montreal Association for the Blind
Manager: Bill Rudkin
Telephone: 514-489-8201

Atlantic Provinces

Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority  -  APSEA
(Kindergarten to 12)
Manager: Richard Thompson
Telephone: 902-424-8540

Ferguson Library for Print-Handicapped Students
Patrick Power Library
St. Mary’s University
Manager: Peter Webster
Telephone: 902-420-5507

Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians Secretariat:
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N4
Telephone: 613-995-3904
Fax: 613-947-2916