Right to Read

CNIB urges governments to provide fair public funding for accessible library services - Right to Read campaign highlights human rights issue affecting 800,000+ Canadians

January 19, 2010 (Vancouver, BC)

CNIB is urging Canada’s governments to provide immediate and fair public funding for nationwide accessible library services, or risk compromising the right to read of more than 800,000 Canadians – including 112,000 British Columbians.

For more than 90 years, CNIB has operated Canada’s largest library of Braille and accessible audio materials, funded entirely through donations. The charity announced today that it can no longer sustain the $10 million annual operating cost of the service without partnering with governments.

CNIB is urging all Canadians to visit the "Right to Read" campaign where they can send a letter asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their respective Premier to fund accessible library services in their upcoming budgets; and to help spread the word about the campaign.

“Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the right to read, and the right to a library that provides information in formats they can read,” said John Mulka, CNIB’s executive director in BC and the Yukon. “We need Prime Minister Harper, Premier Campbell and all other Premieres to partner with us to sustain this lifeline to literacy.”

Some provinces have already committed funding, including Ontario and Alberta, which announced its support this morning in Edmonton. However, CNIB says support from the other provinces and federal government is crucial.

The campaign brings to light the inequitable approach to library funding in Canada. Whereas regular public libraries are funded by taxpayers, accessible library services for blind and partially sighted Canadians to date have received no such support. Without funding, CNIB warns services could be affected as early as April 2010, with increased wait times among the most immediate impacts.>/p>

Meanwhile, less than five per cent of reading material in Canada ever makes it into accessible formats like Braille or audio – and much of what does is produced through the CNIB Library. Insufficient funding will mean even fewer books can be produced, leaving blind and partially sighted Canadians without access to current titles other readers take for granted.

Canada is, in fact, the only G-8 country that does not publicly fund any library services for people with vision loss.

“Disability should not dictate whether the government supports your right to read,” said Mulka. “We urge everyone across the country to raise their voices and speak out about this urgent human rights issue.”

Over 836,000 Canadians have significant vision loss and a further 3.4million more have sight-threatening eye diseases that could limit their ability to read printed material. These numbers are projected to double by 2032.

Message from Mr. John Rafferty - CNIB's President / CEO

Access for Sight Impaired Consumers is pleased to share, in an accessible audio format, the text of a recent letter sent to all CNIB Library clients informing them of the "Right to Read" campaign​ and urging them to take action when visiting the "Right to Read" campaign web site.

Access for Sight Impaired Consumers fully supports the "Right to Read" campaign and urges all visitors to this page to share the URL or address of the "Right to Read" campaign web site with every member of your family, extended family, neighbours, colleagues, business associates and all others who are concerned about this long-standing inequity toward accessible library services for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. The process of sending an electronic letter to Prime Minister Harper and to your respective Premiere is very simple and will take less time to process than it has taken for you to read this page. We urge you (and all others) to ACT NOW! Please visit the "Right to Read" campaign web site, let your voice be heard and be sure to cross-post the campaign web site URL/address or our introductory posting to all others who will support this campaign.

We thank you in anticipation of your immediate support and leave you with some brief and interesting facts about CNIB and the CNIB Library for the Blind​.

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