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IELA Fact Sheet

January 2008

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To create the conditions for sustainable and equitable library access for Canadians with print disabilities. Library and Archives Canada has been asked to develop and cost 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.

What is a print disability?

Print disabilities prevent people from reading standard print. They can be due to a visual, perceptual or physical disability which may be the result of vision impairment, a learning disability or a disability that prevents the physical holding of a book. Canadians with print disabilities require publications in multiple formats, such as braille, audio, large print and electronic text. They may also require assistive technology to meet their information needs.


The strategy will identify ways of improving access to information and materials in multiple formats and will include options associated with promoting, sponsoring, producing and disseminating public library-type materials in multiple formats. It will also present detailed options and scalable costs for the provision of equitable library access and will explore the extent to which other levels of government or external partners should be involved in supporting sustained access.


The strategy will be developed, informed and refined by broad-based consultations with:

  • People with print disabilities and/or groups representing them to ensure services meet their needs.
  • The library community to develop service standards.
  • Publishers and producers of materials in multiple formats to raise awareness and strengthen the linkages between them.

These consultations will explore issues related to access to published information for people with print disabilities.

Key Activities

Internet Portal
A fully accessible Internet portal that will serve as a gateway for information and resources for and about the provision of access to information for people with print disabilities will be developed. The portal will direct users to all library-type holdings available in multiple formats.

Library Service Standards and Training
A set of service models, standards and training materials for the provision of equitable library access for use by libraries across Canada will be developed. The standards will be formulated in consultation with the library community. They will then be disseminated through an Internet portal, training sessions and assistive technology demonstrations provided to library staff. IELA will also provide libraries with information on costing issues related to the provision of equitable library access.

Electronic Clearinghouse
An Electronic Clearinghouse for multiple format production will continue to be enhanced to enable publishers to make their electronic files available quickly and securely to producers of multiple formats. This will reduce delays in issuing materials in multiple formats and increase their availability. IELA will also consider issues where domestic and foreign copyright restrictions impede access to information for people with print disabilities.


Initiative for Equitable Library Access
Library and Archives Canada
550 de la Cité Boulevard
3rd floor
Gatineau, QC  K1A 0N4
Telephone: 819-994-6889
Fax: 819-934-4388