André Picard’s article in the August 11th issue of Globe and Mail, “It’s well past time for a Canadians with Disabilities Act”, highlights a critical issue for political leaders to address during the upcoming federal election.
Creating “a supportive social safety net…to ensure inclusion and full citizenship” by necessity involves providing people with disabilities equal access to the information they need to participate in society. Yet only seven per cent of published print materials are available in accessible formats like braille, audio and large-print. This means that three million Canadians with print disabilities, including people with vision loss and a variety of learning and physical disabilities, are not able to read the majority of literature published in this country.
Many people are surprised to learn that CNIB, a registered charity, is the primary producer of accessible literature in Canada. While we have received short-term federal grants partially covering production costs, we do not receive full, permanent government funding to produce these vital materials.
We believe Canadians should not be expected to rely in any measure on charitable funding to ensure their basic human right to literacy. CNIB is therefore asking all government parties to make a full commitment to enforcing accessible literature standards in the upcoming election by providing sustainable funding for the production of accessible materials, and to not allow this vital service to continue to rely on a charity’s fluctuating ability to fundraise.
As Picard notes, “the biggest economic and social cost comes from excluding people from participating in society to the full scope of their abilities.” Removing this barrier to information will open up new worlds of opportunity for citizens with disabilities – and it’s high time we take action.
Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement