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ARCHIVED - The Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians

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Fulfilling the Promise: A Progress Report

January 2008

In response to recommendations made by the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, on February 22, 2000, Roch Carrier, the National Librarian, established the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians (the Council).

The Council's role was 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 (Oct 2000).

The Council has worked to fulfill the promise and has addressed as many as possible of the recommendations made by the Task Force. The Council has worked with the spirit and intent of the recommendations of Fulfilling the Promise rather than their exact wording. Given that the Federal Disability Agenda is an inter-departmental initiative, the Council has addressed recommendations to the Government of Canada rather than to a specific department. Below is an account of work the Council has completed on each recommendation.

Now that the Council has completed the work it can do to implement the recommendations of Fulfilling the Promise, it has revised its mandate and will continue to provide liaison between Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and consumer groups representing people with print disabilities.

Recommendation 1:
The Task Force recommends that self-identification be sufficient to give a person with learning disabilities the right of access to multiple alternate format materials.

The Council recognizes the importance of this recommendation and has integrated this issue in all of its work.

Recommendation 2:
The Task Force recommends that the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) energetically pursue the extension of its library services to all print-disabled Canadians.

The Council recognized the link between recommendations 2 and 19. National centralized direct services do not necessarily have to be from a single source but could be from a partnership or a series of coalitions.

Recommendation 3:
The Task Force recommends that the Federal Government act on the recommendations from "Towards Implementing in Unison"

The Council has communicated to LAC the importance and urgency of the implementation of recommendations 3 and 4, with emphasis on recommendation 4.

Recommendation 4:
The Task Force recommends that Human Resources Development Canada establish a universal support program for funding print-disabled Canadians to acquire and be trained in the use of assistive technologies.

A meeting with senior officials from HRDC was held and the Task Force report and recommendations were presented to the Interdepartmental Senior Level (ADM) committee on the Federal Disability Agenda. No action has been taken by the Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

Recommendation 5:
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to Section 32 http://lois.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/230536.html#Section-32 of the Copyright Act http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/index.html to include exemption for large print publications.

In the process of copyright reform, the Chair made a submission on the subject of Recommendations 5 and 6 and passed on information intended for officials representing Canada at the World International Property Organization (WIPO) meetings. The Council also had discussions with the Department of Canadian Heritage to address this question. The Council through the Chair also worked with Canadian Library Association (CLA) to ensure that equitable copyright exemptions for persons with print disabilities were included in their position paper on copyright, Protecting the Public: Information for the Canadian library and information community on Bill C-60 (Jan 2006) www.cla.ca/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Copyright_Information
&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=2887
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8) Exceptions for the print -disabled The exceptions for the print disabled must ensure that individuals have the same ability as others to access content. Current restrictions in legislation on specific alternate formats (large print books and adaptation of cinematographic works) are unacceptable. The limitation of alternate formats for the print-disabled to those formats especially designed for these users presents a restrictive and costly barrier for equal access to content for millions of Canadians. CLA urges the Government to remove this restriction on equitable access as it is in direct violation with core Canadian values, as spelled out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (page 7)

Recommendation 6:
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to the Copyright Act to include exemption for the non-commercial narrative description of cinematographic works.

This recommendation was mentioned in the Chair's submission to the Copyright Act Review.

Recommendation 7:
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada establish and fund a clearinghouse for e-text to which Canadian publishers must make their works available.

A Vision and Implementation Plan for a Clearinghouse for Print-Disabled Canadians (May 2003) was developed to facilitate the timely and affordable production of multiple format titles, while protecting management rights. An Electronic Clearinghouse for Alternative Format Production Pilot Project (Mar 2006) tested the concepts of the plan by establishing a clearinghouse for e-text to which publishers made their works available to alternative format producers. The pilot project was conducted by the Council, CLA, the Canadian Publishers' Council, the Association of Canadian Publishers, l'Association nationale des Éditeurs de Livres, and leading Canadian alternative format producers, with funding from Social Development Canada. As part of the ARCHIVED - Initiative on Equitable Library Access (IELA)*, LAC will continue to operate the Clearinghouse and will investigate the implementation of the recommendations made in the report.

* ARCHIVED - IELA is a three year initiative of LAC which has 4 main deliverables: a full costing strategy for the provision of equitable library services to Canadians with print disabilities, an Internet Portal, the Electronic Clearinghouse for publisher Master files in support of multiple format production, and training and advocacy materials in support of equitable library services.

Recommendation 8:
The Task Force recommends that federal, provincial and territorial subsidies be available only to publishers which provide e-texts to the clearinghouse simultaneous with print publication.

The Council decided to do no further work on Recommendation 8.

Recommendation 9:
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada keep the CANUC-H/CANWIP databases up to date, comprehensive (inclusive of new media, e.g. tactile), representative and available to all alternate format producers. Access to the databases must be free.

LAC's AMICUS database (which encompasses CANUC-H/CANWIP) is now free of charge to all users. LAC continues to make improvements to ensure accessibility and to facilitate the identification of alternative formats. The databases are up-to-date and comprehensive and LAC continues to work with the library community to increase reporting of alternative format materials. AMICUS records are also created for Electronic Clearinghouse titles.

Recommendation 10:
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, annually appropriate at least $7.5 million, beginning fiscal year 2001/2002, to support the production in Canada of multiple format (audio/large/large print) materials, which have authorship outside government.

The Council emphasized the importance of acquiring funding for Canadian content as stated in Recommendation 10. The Council recognized that this was a complex issue but has recommended that strategies be developed to acquire funding. The Chair has had informal discussions with the Department of Canadian Heritage regarding possible funding. The Council submitted a Proposal for Canadian Heritage Support for Alternate Format Production of Canadian Content (Jan 2003). No response has yet been received.

Recommendation 11:
The Task Force recommends that Braille be recognized as a standard alternate format.

The Council endorsed Recommendation 11 and has cooperated, as appropriate, with relevant government departments.

Recommendation 12:
The Task Force recommends that the National Librarian expand the availability of Braille materials by negotiating access for Canadians with national and international providers of Braille materials.

The Council recommended that negotiations be as broad as possible over the longer period to ensure that French language and heritage language alternate format materials be available to Canadians.

There has been nothing further done on this.

Recommendation 13:
The Task Force recommends that the National Librarian negotiate a Canadian site license with Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D).

The Council recommended that the National Librarian communicate and negotiate, as soon as possible, with Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, the conditions and the costs associated with a Canadian site licence. The National Librarian wrote to the president of RFB&D in March 2001. Representatives of Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) were at the Council's third and fourth meetings.

Delegates from the Council were sent to RFB&D in July 2002. RFB&D were clear that they have fundamental concerns about establishing a Canadian site licence although in principle they are enthusiastic about expanding their program to other countries. RFB&D has not abandoned the hope of finding a meaningful relationship in Canada, but their priority is the development of their digital program and that they are very cautious about maintaining their trusted relationships with U.S. publishers. They are also anxious not to jeopardize the existing arrangements with individual Canadians.

LAC and the Council will continue to foster a relationship with RFB&D. This activity will now be part of the IELA workplan.

Recommendation 14:
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Industry Canada, take a lead in participating in and funding the development, adoption and promotion of information and access standards such as NISO/DAISY/WAI and alternate format production standards.

The Council endorsed Recommendation 14 and has cooperated, as appropriate, with relevant government departments.

Recommendation 15:
The Task Force recommends that governments at all levels use the force of procurement to promote and encourage the adoption of universal design standards for accessibility; only materials complying with such standards should be purchased.

The Council encouraged the use of the Accessible Procurement Toolkit www.apt.gc.ca/DListProdsE.asp? by the Governments Assistive Devices Industry Office www.at-links.gc.ca/as. It is a web-based application that delivers accessibility requirements and standards to apply to a purchase of mainstream products and services. Applying these standards ensure that products meet "Universal Design" principles and help the procuring organization meet its mandated obligation to purchase more accessible goods and services.

Recommendation 16:
The Task Force recommends that the Treasury Board Secretariat require that all federal print material be available concurrently in multiple formats on demand.

The Council recommended that the National Librarian write to the Treasury Board Secretariat with regards to recommendation 16, which was done. Following this letter, the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pubs_pol/sipubs/comm/siglist-eng.asp was revised and implemented in April 2002 and again in November 2004 to ensure that "published information is available on request in multiple formats to accommodate persons with disabilities" www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12316§ion=text.

The Council, with resources from Treasury Board, also developed the Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production but this document has not yet be adopted as an annex to the Communications Policy, despite much effort by Council members.

The Common Look and Feel (CLF) www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/clf-nsi/index-eng.asp guidelines, from Treasury Board, makes it mandatory for all Government of Canada web sites to be accessible to all users.

Recommendation 17:
The Task Force recommends that departments and agencies of government at all levels train their personnel to be aware of the needs of Print-Disabled Canadians, of the availability of multiple format materials and in the use of the related assistive technology.

This training material will be developed as part of IELA.

Recommendation 18:
The Task Force recommends that all levels of government make their publications available in multiple formats through the Canadian library system at no additional cost to the library.

The Council, with resources from Treasury Board, developed the Manager's Guide to Multiple Format Production, which contains instructions on the Depository Services Program and the role it plays in disseminating federal publications in libraries across Canada.

Recommendation 19:
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, recognize the primary role of the public library system by funding services for the use of print disabled members of their communities.

The Council recognized the link between recommendations 2 and 19.

LAC has established an office to bring IELA to life. The office will determine the ongoing implementation costs of such an initiative. More specifically, it will consider the issue of how best to ensure production of materials in multiple formats, what costs would be associated with such production, and sources of funding to support it.

Recommendation 20:
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada provide leadership and support to Canadian libraries to facilitate interlibrary loans and encourage the sharing of materials in alternate formats.

AMICUS is now free to users of the database. A national workshop on resource sharing was held in October 2001 at the National Library with 30 participants from major institutions and associations.

Work on this recommendation will continue as part of the IELA.

Recommendation 21:
The Task Force recommends that the National Library of Canada's Adaptive Technology in Libraries Program, which operated from 1991 to 1995, be re-established.

No action has been taken on this recommendation.

Recommendation 22:
The Task Force recommends that the Government of Canada, through Human Resources Development Canada and Industry Canada, fund training programs for staff of Canadian libraries and for users of adaptive technology.

Although funding will not be available, training materials will be developed as part of IELA"

Recommendation 23:
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage, working in collaboration with the National Library of Canada, the CLA and ASTED, negotiate the delivery of alternate format materials as an integral component of the Library Book Rate.

Canadian Heritage has been negotiating the renewal of the Library Book Rate (LBR) and has been advised of this recommendation and the need to include many formats of material in the program that provides Canada Post with resources to sustain the LBR.

The Council wrote to Canadian Heritage to encourage the implementation of the recommendation made in its Study of the Library Book Rate (2002) [www.pch.gc.ca/progs/ac-ca/progs/pap/pubs/tlb-lbr/index_e.cfm], that the definition of materials eligible for distribution under the LBR be expanded to include non-book formats. In addition, the Council proposed that the programme be enhanced to ensure that audio books borrowed through libraries can be returned to the library postage-free.

The Council also ensured that the report presented to the Department of Canadian Heritage by CLA and l' Association pour la science et les techniques de la documentation, presented to the Department of Canadian Heritage, recommended the that LBR material be extended to include "all sorts of non-book works", especially alternative formats for people with print disabilities: Information Resource Sharing: A Position Paper on the Library Book Rate (Oct 2004) www.clatoolbox.ca/issues/cla_asted_librarybookrate.pdf.

Recommendation 24:
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek a method to expand Free Matter for the Blind to include all print-disabled persons and to include new formats.

The Council wrote to the Minister of Transport to expand Canada Post's Material for the Use of the Blind Regulations http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/ShowTdm/cr/C.R.C.-c.1283/en to include all persons with print disabilities and to include new formats. As a result, the regulations have been expanded to include "other sound recordings," but not electronic text, and the service is still restricted only to persons who are blind. The Council will continue to push this issue.

Recommendation 25:
The Task Force recommends that the National Librarian of Canada immediately establish a Council on Access to Print Information.

The Council was established in February 2001.

Recommendation 26:
The Task Force recommends that in conjunction with every program designed to increase accessibility for print-disabled Canadians, there must be an aggressive program of public awareness.

The Council unequivocally recognized that it is paramount that the Government of Canada applies recommendation 26 in all its undertakings. The Council has published several issues of Access Info. It also has a website, an email address and a discussion list and makes presentations at relevant workshops and conferences.

This is part of the mandate of IELA.