Canadian Urban Libraries Council/Conseil des Bibliothèques Urba

CULC in The News

Centre for Equitable Library Access Launches

For Immediate Release

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 (CELAlibrary.ca) 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.

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 (bookshare.org), 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
media@celalibrary.ca

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is CELA?
CELA is a new, national non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries to support the provision of accessible collections for Canadians with print disabilities and to champion the fundamental right of Canadians with print disabilities to access media and reading materials in the format of their choice, including audio, braille, e-text and descriptive video. CELA is supported by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC).

What does CELA do?
CELA provides services to public libraries to support their patrons with print disabilities, including learning, physical or visual disabilities that prevent someone from reading conventional print. With this in mind, CELA produces and distributes a growing collection of items including books, magazines, newspapers and described videos in a number of choices of formats and delivery methods. CELA also provides public libraries with support, expertise and training on accessibility.

Who is CELA?
CELA is a public library membership organization. It is governed by a Board made up of public library representatives from across Canada, with various Board committees and public library and consumer advisory groups.

What services does CELA offer?
CELA offers member libraries:

  • A variety of formats including audio, braille, e-text and descriptive video
  • Access to a growing 230,000+ collection, including books, magazines, newspapers and described videos
  • Bilingual collection and service
  • Access to Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible books. Bookshare is an American organization that works with publishers to obtain new releases and back catalogues of their works, then uses features like text-to-speech or digital braille to make these works accessible. Their catalogue is rapidly expanding every day, and all CELA members have access to over 160,000 books.
  • Delivery options: Direct download to computers, handheld devices and DAISY players; CD and braille mailed to home
  • Community outreach and summer reading program support
  • Training and advice on accessibility matters
  • Service infrastructure already scaled to serve over 1 million Canadians

Who can access CELA collections?
Any member of a participating library who has a learning, visual, or physical disability that prevents them from reading conventional print.

How do public libraries deliver CELA services to their customers?
People with print disabilities sign up for public library service at their local public library and, if eligible, are introduced to the library’s accessible services, including CELA collections. These collections are available in different formats and can be downloaded onto a computer or device, or be delivered by mail to the patron’s home.

Is there a fee for libraries to offer CELA services? Is there a fee for customers to access CELA services?
Depending on the size of the library system, and what province it is in, there may be a fee for libraries to join CELA. Several provinces are providing full funding for their libraries to join CELA. In non-funding provinces, there is a fee based on the population served by the library. This covers a portion of the costs, with the balance underwritten this year by CNIB.

For library patrons, the service is free with their library card.

What is CNIB's relationship to CELA?
CNIB is the service provider of CELA services for CELA Library Members and their customers, including providing alternative format production and delivery services and support.

CNIB is also a critical partner in a national solution for accessible format materials, supporting advocacy and funding efforts for CELA services.

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