Green Party of Canada

John M. Rafferty

President & CEO

John R. Matheson

National Board Chair

CNIB

September 4th, 2015

Dear Messrs. Rafferty and Matheson,

Thank you for writing to us about access to literacy for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. We appreciate this opportunity to share our policies with your organization and members.

The modern world hinges on the written word. Equal access to literature published in accessible formats is an urgently needed guarantor of a basic human right. Three million Canadians with print disabilities have limited or no access to 93% of printed materials. Whether it be traditional media, including newspapers, magazines and books, or new media, especially the internet, the current state of affairs means that the vast majority of available literature is entirely inaccessible to to the blind or partially sighted.

The Green Party wants to see a Canada where all citizens have equal opportunity to engage in the shaping of our culture. Affordable, available and accessible materials is a crucial component of this vision. The Green Party will make full and continued funding for the production of accessible material a national priority. It is ultimately the federal government that is best positioned to ensure the equality of this service. We will ensure that this collective responsibility is not left to the nonprofit sector to bear the financial and logistical burden alone.

We need to end the “book famine” now. The Green Party is committed to swiftly implementing the spirit and the letter of the Marrakesh Treaty. We need, not only, to improve our intellectual property laws to ensure that books are not made unavailable by reason of copyright but also to provide adequate funding to make sure books can be converted to accessible formats. Your organization's request for a $3,068,000 investment is a small price for the federal government to pay to give so many Canadians access to books. While charities take on much of the burden now, human rights must not be subject to the fluctuations of generosity.

Canada, as a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has the obligation to “recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities.” We need a renewed commitment to cultural accessibility. In the next Parliament, Green MPs will work hard towards this goal.

Thank you again for writing. All Canadians know the invaluable work of the CNIB and on behalf of the Green Party I thank you for your advocacy.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth May

Member of Parliament for SaanichGulf

Islands

Leader of the Green Party of Canada 

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