Launch of new library service provides accessible books to over three million Canadians with print disabilities

May 29, 2014 – Victoria, BC -

The Centre for Equitable Library Access officially launched its new national service which provides accessible library services and materials to Canadians with print disabilities. The announcement was made at the Canadian Library Association’s National Conference in Victoria, BC.

Over three million Canadians have a print disability. This could be a learning, physical or visual disability that prevents a person from reading conventional print.  For the 10 per cent of Canadians who have a print disability, access to reading materials in alternate formats like audio, braille and described video is often an ongoing challenge. Research shows that access to a broad range of reading materials has a direct and positive impact on a child’s success in school and in life.  CELA makes it possible for these Canadians to gain easy access to a wealth of reading materials, in formats of their choice, right in their own communities through their local public library.

CELA offers member public libraries:

 -  A broad choice of formats including audio, braille, e-text and described video
 -  Access to a growing collection of over 230,000 alternate format items including books, magazines, newspapers and described videos
 -  Access to Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible reading materials. Bookshare is an American organization that works with publishers to obtain new releases and back catalogues of their works. Bookshare books can be downloaded to a computer, mobile device such as a smartphone and tablet, or braille displays. Their catalogue is rapidly expanding, and all CELA members have access to more than 160,000 books.
-  A broad selection of genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s, young adult, business, self-help, poetry and more
-  A choice of delivery options: Direct download to computer, handheld devices and DAISY player; CD and braille mailed to home
-  Support for community outreach and summer reading programs
-  Training and expertise on accessibility
-  Bilingual collections and service
While May 29 marks the official launch, over 600 public library systems across Canada are already CELA members, or 75 per cent of Canadian public libraries.  These member libraries are serving over 85 per cent of Canadians.  Ninety-four percent of Canada’s First Nations libraries are CELA members.  And the CELA membership is growing.

About CELA

CELA is a new, national non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries to provide equitable public library services for Canadians with print disabilities. CELA provides services to libraries to enable them to serve their patrons who have a visual,

learning or physical disability that prevents them from reading conventional print. CELA is governed by a Board made up of public library representatives from across Canada, and is supported by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) and CNIB (the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).Together, we champion the fundamental right of Canadians with print disabilities to access media and reading materials in a format of their choice.

Background and Frequently Asked Questions documents available upon request.

At the launch, 14 year old Rachell Morton, a CELA patron and member of the Greater Victoria Public Library, spoke about the impact on her life of the availability of CELA services. Media interviews with Rachell, as well as with other CELA users and CELA member public libraries can be arranged upon request.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Murray, CELA

(416) 820-9707