CELA and NNELS Joint Response to Minister Qualtrough’s Announcement

Today Minister Qualtrough released a statement restoring $1 million in funding for accessible reading materials for the upcoming budget year 2021-2022, meaning there will not be cuts to funding for Centre for Equitable Library Services (CELA) and the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS), or their services, for the upcoming year.
We thank Minister Qualtrough for her assistance and are grateful for the one year reprieve this funding offers for our users who rely on accessible reading materials. In our conversation with Minister Qualtrough yesterday we agreed that there needs to be an ongoing discussion with all stakeholders, including the publishing industry, the federal government and others, to develop a longer term strategy and sustainable Federal funding solution for accessible book production and distribution. We are also seeking her assurance to address the government’s planned funding cuts for future years while we work together to develop a strategy to meet the needs of the 1 in 10 people with print disabilities.
CELA, NNELS and our colleagues in the publishing industry all believe the idea of born accessible publishing is a laudable goal, and we are working together to increase the amount of material that can be produced this way. Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers says, “CELA and NNELS are valued partners to the Canadian publishing industry as we implement strategies to ensure that our books are born accessible. We know that continued progress in this area depends on developing sustainable models that include partners in all parts of that ecosystem, and look forward to continuing to work with government, NNELS and CELA in support of this goal.”
We are grateful for the broad support our advocacy campaign received, and for all the efforts made to raise awareness with MPs on this issue. These efforts have assured the government has understood the importance of this issue and as a result they have offered this interim solution. We commit to keeping you apprised of the progress of our conversations with the government as we strive for longer term funding.
Laurie Davidson,
Executive Director, Centre for Equitable Library Access
Kevin Millsip,
Executive Director, BC Libraries Cooperative