Parliament Hill event celebrates improved access to literature for Canadians with print disabilities

Today on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, CNIB celebrated the Canadian government’s commitment to break down barriers for people with print disabilities. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development were special guests at the celebration of Canada’s commitment to providing greater access to literature for all Canadians.  

Representatives from all three officially recognized political parties, MP Rob Oliphant, Don Valley West, MP Pierre Poilievre, Carleton and MP Brian Masse, Windsor West, hosted the event, demonstrating the government’s unified support of the introduction of Bill C-11. The bill works to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and has passed in the House of Commons and awaits approval in the Senate. 

"Imagine hearing about the latest award-winning novel, but not being allowed to read it. Or enrolling in a university or business program, but being denied access to the course material. This is the reality three million Canadians with print disabilities face today,” says Diane Bergeron, Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement at CNIB.  

"Access to literature is a human right, and it's unconscionable that until now, a significant portion of our country's population only has access to seven per cent of all published material worldwide."

“This event is an opportunity to celebrate our champions in the three official government parties who have joined forces with their promise to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty,” says John Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. “Once this bill is passed, it will provide Canadians with print disabilities a wider range of accessible literature than ever, improving the lives of the people CNIB serves. It opens up education and employment opportunities – not to mention the joy of reading for pleasure.” 

“The Government of Canada is increasing accessibility and removing barriers for Canadians with disabilities. Once in force, the Marrakesh Treaty will allow greater access to reading material, especially in our schools and libraries,” says the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. 

“I would like to acknowledge the strong support shown by CNIB towards Bill C-11 since it was tabled. Improving international access to copyrighted material for the visually impaired and print disabled is a priority for our government. For persons with print disabilities this initiative will lead to better access to print material in accessible formats as well as better employment prospects and new access to information, literature and knowledge, ” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.                                                                                                             

The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Marrakesh Treaty is designed to remove barriers to the access of alternate-format print materials through changes to domestic copyright laws on an international basis, while also facilitating the sharing of literary materials between nations.

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco, and has been ratified by 17 other nations including Australia, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico. 
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