TORONTO, Dec. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, in observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), champions a national effort to enrich the reading experience of Canadians with print disabilities offering fully accessible literature through their local libraries.
CELA, a non-profit online library service established in 2014 by and for Canadian public libraries, offers eligible public library patrons free access to books and periodicals in accessible formats such as audio, braille, and e-text and technologies that read accessible materials. Today, the library provides access to over 300,000 titles in these alternative formats.
"As we remove the barriers to reading and provide more varieties of accessible content, we can help more citizens with print disabilities integrate more fully into society," said Catherine Biss, CELA Board Chair and Chief Librarian of the Markham Public Library. "Working with Canadian libraries and organizations, we hope to open the world of reading equality to thousands more Canadian residents."
A 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability estimates that three million Canadians are print disabled, due to vision loss, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability like dyslexia. These disabilities make it difficult or impossible to read or hold a book and only 7 per cent of published works are in formats that those with print disabilities can read.
Claudette Larocque, Director of The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada said, "Canadian libraries and organizations serving those who cannot read conventional print have made a longstanding commitment to provide cost-effective and quality resources to benefit all readers. CELA helps make this commitment a reality."
In July 2014, CELA partnered with Bookshare, the world's largest online library of copyrighted content for individuals with print disabilities. Bookshare is a global literacy initiative of Benetech and serves more than a quarter million members. Through CELA and local public libraries offering CELA services, eligible Canadians may sign up for free membership at more than 620 Canadian library systems across Canada at 1,500 service points.
Through CELA, print-disabled patrons of public libraries enjoy unlimited downloads of Bookshare titles with no expiration dates, plus free reading technologies and apps. Accessible eBooks are read with computers, tablets, smartphones, or braille displays. The collection includes novels, nonfiction, mysteries, cookbooks, children's books, newspapers, publications, Globe and Mail Bestsellers, and popular books by acclaimed Canadian authors.
"Accessible library services through CELA and technologies are game-changers for our students to receive access to information and enjoy a future of lifelong reading," said Frank Smith, board member of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS).
Public Libraries interested in becoming CELA members can email email@example.com or call 1-855-655-2273.
For organizations who want to provide information to their clients with print disabilities about CELA services and Bookshare access through local public libraries, CELA has a "toolkit" of useful information and materials at http://org.celalibrary.ca.
About CELA, the Centre for Equitable Library Access
CELA is a national not-for-profit organization run by public libraries for public libraries. Its mission is to support public libraries in the provision of accessible collections for Canadians with print disabilities and to champion their fundamental right to access media and reading materials in the format of their choice, including audio, braille, e-text and described video.
About the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an annual observance proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The 2014 event focuses on sustainable development to harness the power of technology to promote full inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities in political, social, environmental, economic and cultural life.
Image with caption: "CELA Accessible Library Services (CNW Group/The Centre for Equitable Library Access)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141203_C8127_PHOTO_EN_8877.jpg
SOURCE: The Centre for Equitable Library Access
For further information: CELA Contact: Lindsay Tyler, Centre for Equitable Library Access, Lindsay.Tyler@cnib.ca