Frequently Asked Questions

What is CELA?

The Centre for Equitable Library Access, CELA, is Canada’s most comprehensive accessible reading service, providing books and other materials to Canadians with print disabilities in the formats of their choice. Through partnerships with public libraries, CELA serves approximately 90% of the estimated 3 million Canadians with print disabilities. CELA provides access to nearly 450,000 professionally produced titles to provide people with print disabilities with a quality library experience. 

How and why was CELA created?

Prior to 2014, the CNIB Library, a registered charity funded by donations, was Canada’s main provider of accessible library services. Canadians should not be expected to rely on a charity’s fluctuating ability to fundraise, to ensure their basic human right to read, and to literacy. This is neither fair nor sustainable.

For years, CNIB and other organizations had been advocated that to ensure fair and equitable access for all, library services for Canadians with print disabilities should be integrated into the public library system and funded accordingly. Indeed, it is the right of people with print disabilities under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities​ to have access to information through mainstream agencies, as every other Canadian does.

With that objective, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC), in consultation with the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and CNIB, incorporated and provided start-up financing for the Centre for Equitable Library Access in late 2013, as a first step in transferring the responsibilities and assets of the CNIB Library to Canadian public libraries. The CELA Service was officially launched on April 1, 2014 and all patrons of the former CNIB library now receive their library services through CELA.

Who is CELA for?

Any Canadian who has a print disability, such as blindness or sight loss, and who lives in an area served by a CELA member library, is eligible to receive CELA library service. As part of a grandfathering agreement CNIB clients, registered before April 1, 2014 were also eligible for services even if they did not reside in an area with a CELA member library. CELA also offers access to educators who support students with print disabilities.

What does CELA offer?

CELA offers accessible books and a wide variety of newspapers and magazines in audio, braille and accessible e-book formats, all available through the convenience of your local public library. Materials can be downloaded from the CELA catalogue or sent via home delivery. CELA patrons are also eligible for a free account with Bookshare​, which offers an additional 350,000 titles. 

Is CELA’s library service available everywhere in Canada?

In most parts of Canada, CELA services are funded by provincial governments; however, for some clients in British Columbia, Manitoba, Nunavut, Yukon and parts of Nova Scotia, CNIB has been temporarily subsidising library services while CELA worked with the provincial and territorial governments to find a sustainable funding solution. Without a commitment of support from these provincial governments, you and others in your community may lose your access to the CELA services you count on. 

What can I do to help?

We're calling on you, along with your family and friends, to contact your Member of the Legislative Assembly today and urge them to fund CELA services, and ensure your right to read is protected. Your voice can make a difference. For more information and tools to help you advocate, visit cnib.ca/advocacy or contact: