OTTAWA – December 2, 2008 - On December 3, 2008, representatives from the library community and the publishing sector are coming together with consumers and consumer groups in a unique forum to discuss the progress of the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) in addressing the present state of access to information and the future needs of people with print disabilities. The event is being organized by Library and Archives Canada on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
"Library and Archives Canada is working with the library community to ensure that information is accessible to all Canadians," stated Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "With the collaboration of Canadian libraries, publishers, consumer groups and government leaders, we are moving forward in raising awareness to the needs of people with print disabilities."
"I commend the Government of Canada for the leadership it has shown in funding the Initiative for Equitable Library Access," added Jim Sanders, President of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). "I'm aware of the current efforts of the IELA team and its collaboration with the Canadian Library Association, individuals who have print disabilities and other stakeholders across the country, to finally bring forward a 'made in Canada' model for equitable public library services."
Strong interest from consumer groups and library communities led to the announcement in October 2007 of $3 million in funding from the Government of Canada to Library and Archives Canada towards the Initiative for Equitable Library Access. With input from Canadian libraries, people with print disabilities, publishers and producers of alternate formats, the Initiative is developing a national strategy to assist Canadians with print disabilities to access library collections.
During the forum, a report will outline the major accomplishments since the consultations and research undertaken with libraries, consumer groups, publishers and producers of alternate formats. These results have enabled Library and Archives Canada and the Initiative for Equitable Library Access, to successfully develop a blueprint to upgrade the degree of service in libraries for all Canadians with print disabilities.
Key participants at the event will include Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Euclid Herie, President of the World Braille Foundation, the Honourable James K. Hugessen, Deputy Judge of the Federal Court, Roch Carrier, Honorary Chair of the National Adult Literacy Database and former National Librarian of Canada, and Jim Sanders, President of the CNIB.
More than three million Canadians have print disabilities. Print disabilities prevent people from reading standard print because of a visual, perceptual, physical or learning disability. With a significant percentage of the Canadian population aging, the need for access to information with print material in alternate formats is increasing. The IELA is leading the way in addressing the needs of information access for all Canadians.
For more information on the Initiative for Equitable Library Access, please visit: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/iela/.
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Pauline M. Portelance
Senior Media Relations Officer
Library and Archives Canada
819-994-4589 or 613-293-4298
In 2000, the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, a joint initiative of the National Library of Canada and the CNIB, 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.
Following the work of the Task Force in 2000, Library and Archives Canada addressed many of the recommendations made by the task force, and notably established the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians which continues to be a liaison between LAC and libraries, publishers, producers and consumers with print-disabilities.
Continuing advocacy on the part of consumer groups led to the announcement in 2007 of $3 million in funding from the Government of Canada to Library and Archives Canada towards the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA), to assist Canadians with print disabilities in their access to library collections. The Initiative is being carried out in partnership with Canadian libraries, people with print disabilities, publishers and other stakeholders.
On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the first anniversary of the creation of the IELA and the eve of the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille, Library and Archives Canada is hosting a forum, with key stakeholders, to discuss the needs of the print-disabled and the progress made towards equitable library access.