In July 2014, Bookshare announced a partnership with the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) in Canada. This partnership significantly increases the availability of accessible books and services to support Canadian citizens with qualified print disabilities.
CELA is a non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries with support by CNIB. Its mission is to offer alternative format production and services delivery of accessible books so that CELA member libraries may enrich the reading experience to support children and adults with print disabilities such as vision loss, a physical disability, such as cerebral palsy or a severe reading disability, like dyslexia.
Through this partnership, CELA covers the cost of Bookshare memberships for eligible individuals. The effort aims to champion the fundamental rights of persons with print disabilities to access media and reading materials in the format of their choice, including audio, braille, e-text and descriptive video.
CELA Board Chairman, Catherine Biss, said, “Canadian Library Month is a time to honor librarians and library organizations that work so diligently to enhance the reading experiences of all individuals, especially those with print disabilities. Through Bookshare, we can offer access to so many more titles in accessible formats with unlimited downloads and no expiration dates.”
To assist Canadian organizations who want to make their local communities and schools aware of the Bookshare membership and services, CELA has a bilingual staff and useful information and materials, (in English and French) on its website to support local outreach efforts.
CELA patrons who sign up for Bookshare membership will receive unlimited access to more than 200,000 accessible books today, as well as reading technologies and apps that read digital formats with text-to-speech (TTS). Collections range from novels, nonfiction and mysteries, to cookbooks, children’s books, popular titles on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers Lists and titles by acclaimed Canadian authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
Recently, Bookshare staff traveled to Canada to spend time with the CELA team and public librarians in and around Toronto. Everyone agreed that accessible books open a world of reading opportunities for persons with print disabilities.
The staff were particularly enthusiastic about how rapidly the Bookshare collection grows with popular titles to pique readers’ interests. They also appreciate the fast and easy membership sign up process and the ease in which patrons can download and read accessible books.
“We are excited to work with CELA and bring new benefits to Canadians,” said Kristina Pappas, Bookshare’s International Program Manager. “Through our partnership, we hope that thousands more individuals with print disabilities will easily find their favorite books and genres in our extensive collection.”