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--- Beginning of Question Period
MR. MANNING: Yes.
MR. BERRIGAN: My name is Bob Berrigan. I have been a client-volunteer of CNIB library for 12 years now. I basically have a testimonial, if nothing else.
My biggest joy in life, prior to my inability to read print was to just go to the library, take an index card, look up a book and go get it.
When I could no longer do that, I did fall into a deep depression.
MR. MANNING: Excuse me, but could I ask you to come closer to the microphone so that we can capture this on our intrepid webcast.
MR. BERRIGAN: Oh, thank you.
(To dog) Sit please. Sit. Good boy. Down. Good boy.
MR. BERRIGAN: Well, thank you very much.
I will repeat. My name is Bob Berrigan. I am a client-volunteer with the CNIB . Twelve years ago, thirteen years ago, I did loose a lot of my central vision.
One of my greatest loves was reading. I did hit a deep depression. A lot of it was caused by my inability to just go pick up a book. I used to love going to the library, going through the index cards, choosing a book, picking it out and going home with it.
When I first discovered the CNIB library for the blind, there was still Telnet access on the computer. I was lucky enough to get speech screen-reading software on my computer to be able to access the CNIB webpage, the CNIB library.
One of my great joys that started me on a new love of reading was the ability to actually go through the CNIB library catalogue and choose the books that I wanted to read, books that I would no longer be able to read in print.
That did open up my life again, and I have been continuing to read up to 60 books a year through the CNIB library because it is accessible.
Thanks to everybody who has been part of this initiative all the way from the CNIB library and the recording studio through to LAC and all of its partners for making this available to all of us. On behalf of everybody who is print disabled, I thank you.
Please continue the good work because, boy, it is valuable.
Thank you very, very much.
MR. MANNING: Thank you very much.
Yes, a comment here.
MS LECLERC: I am Penny Leclerc, and I live here, in Ottawa.
I would just like to say that since the closed book and the continued efforts, I have seen a lot more action than I have ever seen in previous years. Like 20 years back, as opposed to five years or six years ago.
An example of that would be the library here in Ottawa. Their website is very acceptable. They have made tremendous strides to make it acceptable. The library staff bent over backwards to get information that we need.
So, although CNIB 's library is there, the libraries in some cases, and particularly Ottawa being one of the models, are really doing their best to make an inclusive library, not just a library for blind people or for people who can't afford a book. It is inclusive, all around inclusive, which does include blind people.
That's where we want to go. That's where we are going to go. We are on a mission. We are all involved and we all have to continue.
MR. MANNING: Mary Frances.
MS LAUGHTON: Mr. Wilson spoke about the fact that some small children wouldn't be able to understand The Hockey Sweater.
One of my prized possessions is in fact a print braille version of The Hockey Sweater where the CNIB has stripped the book and put braille overlays so that a child who is blind can read the braille while the parent reads the words or a blind parent can read the words while a sighted child looks at the pictures.
They asked me if I would share my prized possession. So it's on the LAC table. It is mine. Nobody can have it. But you can have a look at it.
MR. CARRIER: I would just like to say that when I visited CNIB I was given a copy of this book with the braille version.
Since that time, every time I go to a school, I say: "Oh, did you enjoy the story?" They say: "Yes."
I say: "Do you know that they have little kids who cannot read?"
"No." "Yeah. I know, I know."
"Do you know what they do?"
"No."So I take the book and show them the book. They are just amazed, you know. They touch, they look how it's
done. "But how can they read?" All that.
So that's a very nice experience for me all the time.
Thank you very much. Thank you for the book.
MR. MANNING: Joby?
MR. FLEMING: Good morning, everybody.
I am a member of the Council on Access here, in Ottawa. I am actually from St. John's, Newfoundland. I am a person with a learning disability.
I thought it was important to get up and speak today because Access is something that I feel very strongly about. It's something that, as a person with a learning disability, we are not quite there yet.
I thought it was very important to bring this up just to know where we have come from, which is absolutely amazing the work of the Task Force. The honour I have to sit on this council and work with such great people around this table is something that I will never forget.
Being a young Canadian – you know, almost 30 years old – I have gone through a university system. I have gone through a school system. I am an educator who has worked with people with learning disabilities for the past eight years in St. John's, Newfoundland at a private adult education school for adult basic education.
Mr. Carrier, I actually read The Hockey Sweater to my students because it's not available for people with learning disabilities in St. John's, Newfoundland.
I thought it was important to bring this point up because they want that access as well and, you know, I have taken on myself the passion to be able to bring that to people with learning disabilities and I just wanted that, really, to be remembered today in such great celebration on the day of International Disability because learning disability is certainly one of those disabilities that is invisible, but is also invisible in terms of the service that we provide.
It's something that we need to look at a lot further.
I am happy and honoured to say that I am a part of that, on the Council, and that the National Library and IELA are doing that.
It's something I hope to bring back and to change in St. John's, Newfoundland, to bring that access.
But I just wanted to bring those remarks today.
MR. MANNING: Any other comments or questions?
If not, we have heard a little bit about braille. Some of our exhibitors will be able to show us what braille actually looks like if you actually haven't seen it. The six dots that changed the world, as we have heard this morning.
Lunch is being served in the room at the front of the building, which is to my right and to your left.
I invite you all to mingle and chat with us all.
Thank you all very, very much for coming.
--- End of question period