Workshops - Solutions to Library/Print Material Access
Initiative for Equitable Library Access for Canadians with Print Disabilities
Trisha is a project officer for the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). She holds a Masters in Library Science from the University of Toronto, and is a strong advocate for accessibility in libraries, websites and digital initiatives. Trisha is also in her fifth year as part of the secretariat to the LAC Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, where she brings her personal experience with a learning disability to efforts to improve access to information, and to facilitate the work of the federal government in the advancement of the federal disability agenda.
The mandate of the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) is to create the conditions for sustainable and equitable library access for Canadians with print disabilities. Library and Archives Canada is leading this three-year, $3 million federally funded project to develop a strategy for implementing nation-wide partnerships, activities and services to meet the long-term library and information access needs of Canadians with print disabilities.
This presentation will outline the IELA’s key activities, including working with stakeholders to develop a strategy to improve access to materials in multiple formats; creating a fully accessible Internet portal to serve as an information gateway about the provision of access to information for people with print disabilities; developing a set of service models, standards and training materials, for use by Canadian libraries, for the provision of equitable library access; and establishing an Electronic Clearinghouse to enable publishers to make their electronic files available quickly and securely to producers of multiple formats.
More than three million Canadians, or 10% of Canada’s population, have a print disability and require information in multiple formats; yet less than 5% of published Canadian material is available in multiple formats, Trisha Lucy said.
While students have access to multiple formats through government and schools, access stops once they leave school. The visually impaired can still receive help from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), but there are no services for the learning disabled, who must rely on public libraries. Yet libraries lack materials and resources to provide services to print-disabled Canadians comparable to those received by people who read conventional print.
The Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) was launched “to create the conditions for sustainable and equitable library access for Canadians with print disabilities,” Lucy said. To this end, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will develop a strategy by March 2010 to implement nationwide partnerships, activities, and services.
IELA focuses on several key activities. It is working with stakeholders to develop a strategy for improving access to materials in multiple formats. It is also developing service guidelines, training materials, and workshops for Canadian libraries on providing equitable library access. In addition, IELA will be creating a fully accessible Internet portal to provide information and resources for print-disabled people.
Another key activity is to establish an electronic clearing house enabling publishers to make their electronic files available quickly and securely to producers of materials in multiple formats.
IELA is also commissioning studies. It has surveyed public libraries to determine the degree of service and collections being offered to print-disabled clients. Further work includes a study of commercial audio and digital publishing in Canada and a report on access to library catalogue records for multiple format materials.
For more information, Lucy invited participants to contact IELA, join its public listserv, or visit its website at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/iela/.