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Access to Information: A Critical Human Right

Date: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In recognition of the UN's annual Human Rights Day, December 10, Robin East, President of the nationwide Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), is calling for increased access to print materials, something most Canadians take for granted.
 
"Imagine a world in which you could read only about 5% of what you currently can access and read. How would this affect your life?" challenges East. "That's the situation currently facing persons who have a print disability. Ninety-five percent of published materials are not accessible to us."
 
We are living in an information society and a knowledge based economy which makes it vital for all of us to be able to access information at a moment's notice. This requires being able to access information independently without sighted assistance. ""We can only do this if websites and their related web content, web information, and forms are made truly accessible to everyone.
 
Donna Jodhan of Toronto recently won a landmark case against the Government of Canada that requires the federal Government to bring all of its websites into compliance within 15 months.
 
"We hope this decision will send a clear signal to all website developers and organizations that ‘accessibility’ must become a higher priority," says East, "And the AEBC is anxious to collaborate with organizations to help make this happen.”
 
"We are calling for increased access to print materials, which is a basic human right, that most Canadians take for granted with their publicly funded libraries," says East.

Persons who are blind and other Print Disabled Canadians must rely on the charity of the CNIB to provide their reading material. CNIB has stated clearly on numerous occasions that it will close down its charitable library on March 31, 2012 and CNIB has further stated that their accessible library service is both unsustainable and fundamentally inappropriate.
 
Organizations of the print disabled have been working with Library and Archives Canada to develop a publicly funded replacement, "but these efforts are progressing at a snail's pace," adds East. "We are in desperate need of a national publicly funded library system for Canadians with print disabilities", East states.
 
Blind and other print disabled Canadians need to be assured that we are not left behind. It is society's duty through its public infrastructure to ensure that all blind and other print disabled kids can look forward to a future where "accessible" is not just merely something that is nice to have but a reality.
 
Background Information

The United Nations has designated December 10 as the day to recognize the work currently taking place, and to focus on the need to advance human rights protection worldwide.
 

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