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Government of Canada launches new call for proposals to increase the production of alternate format materials for persons with print disabilities

News release

May 9, 2024            Gatineau, Quebec             Employment and Social Development Canada

All Canadians deserve equal access to programs, services and supports. The Government of Canada is committed to investing in programs that help remove barriers to accessibility, increase inclusion, and empower persons with disabilities to fully engage in their communities.

In 2023, 5.2 million Canadians aged 15 and older reported encountering barriers to reading printed materials due to a difficulty seeing, holding or turning the pages, or understanding words in print. About half (2.5 million people) indicated they require reading materials in an alternate format, such as large print, Braille, accessible electronic or audio files, to be able to read. Access to alternate format reading materials for educational, professional and personal purposes, is critical to ensuring the full participation of persons with print disabilities in society.

Today, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, launched a call for proposals under the new Equitable Access to Reading Program, which will provide $30 million over five years to increase the production and availability of reading materials in alternate formats, as well as training and awareness initiatives on their use.

Projects could receive funding of up to $2 million per year under the program for a period of three years starting in 2024, for a maximum of $6 million.

Eligible organizations have until June 19, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. EST to apply by going to the Equitable Access to Reading Program webpage and accessing the instructions and application form for funding. Online information sessions in English (May 22, 2024) and French (May 23, 2024) will be offered to support organizations through the application process. Anyone interested in attending can send an email to EDSC.PAEL-EARP.ESDC@servicecanada.gc.ca.

The Equitable Access to Reading Program is an action item under the Disability Inclusion Action Plan, which serves as the Government of Canada’s blueprint for change to make Canada more inclusive for persons with disabilities. The Equitable Access to Reading Program supports the development of accessible and inclusive communities to achieve the goal set by the Accessible Canada Act of building a country, free of physical, societal and attitudinal barriers.

Quotes

“Too many Canadians continue to face long-standing barriers to inclusion because most reading materials are not accessible to persons with print disabilities. Through the Equitable Access to Reading Program, we are taking concrete steps to increase access to alternate reading format materials. This is another important initiative in eliminating barriers to inclusion for all Canadians.”  

– Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera

Quick facts

  • According to the 2023 Statistics Canada Survey on Accessible Print Materials, 5.2 million Canadians have a difficulty with print material. Of that number, 77.4% have difficulty seeing words in print, 42.2% have difficulty reading or understanding words in print and 25% have difficulty holding or turning pages. About half (2.5 million) indicate that they require at least one alternate format.
  • The survey also found that over two-thirds (69.5%) of persons who require an alternate format to read face at least one barrier when trying to access them.
  • Since 2005, the Government of Canada has provided approximately $48 million to support the production and distribution of alternate format reading materials. This includes funding allocated to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Service.
  • The objective of the program is to ensure long-term, predictable and stable funding to support the production of materials for persons with a variety of print disabilities in both the official and Indigenous languages, and which reflect the diversity and intersectionality of the Canadian population.
  •  In 2016, Canada joined the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.
  • Budget 2022:

    o   provided $38 million over seven years, beginning in 2022–2023, to support the production of alternate format reading materials;
    o   also, provided $5 million over two years to the Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Service to continue to produce alternate formats in 2022–2023 and 2023–2024; and
    o   provided funding of $500,000 over two years, beginning in 2022–2023, to conduct research on the needs and challenges faced by persons with print disabilities related to alternate formats, to inform the development of a new Equitable Access to Reading Program.

Associated links

Contacts

For media inquiries, please contact:

Laurent de Casanove
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities
laurent.decasanove@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
819-360-0693

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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