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CNIB Receives $2 Million to Support Production of Alternate Format Published Materials for People with Print Disabilities

June 14, 2016

Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced $2 million in funding for the CNIB to continue supporting its production of alternate format published materials for people with print disabilities.

From the news release

The Government of Canada provides further support to break down barriers for Canadians with print disabilities

The Government of Canada is providing $2 million in funding this year to CNIB through the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component to continue to support CNIB in its production of alternate format published materials for people with print disabilities. People with print disabilities include those with visual impairments, people with impairments which affect reading comprehension (such as learning disabilities), and people who are unable to hold or turn the pages of a book.

The announcement is being made in parallel to an event that will be hosted today by CNIB at the Sir John A MacDonald building in Ottawa to celebrate that Canada is moving forward on the Marrakesh Treaty and the Government of Canada’s efforts to break down barriers for people with disabilities. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, will join representatives from CNIB today to commemorate the occasion.

Minister Qualtrough reiterates the Government of Canada’s commitment to undertake in the coming months a national engagement process with Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories, municipalities and other stakeholders that will lead to the tabling of new accessibility legislation.

Quick Facts

  • More than 800,000 Canadians live with a visual impairment and around 3 million Canadians are print disabled.
  • Only 5 to 7 percent of published books are ever made available in an accessible format such as an audiobook or a Braille conversion.
  • This funding will allow CNIB, Canada’s largest producer of alternate format materials, to produce alternative format published materials to Canadians with print disabilities, and increase the number of titles available in alternative formats by at least 1,300 titles.
  • Once the Marrakesh Treaty comes into force, Canadians with print disabilities will potentially have access to thousands of adapted works from 20 or more other Treaty countries.


“Ensuring greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities in their communities and workplace is a priority for our government. We are proud to work with organizations like the CNIB whose ongoing work and support for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted is helping us to meet this goal.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

“Access to literature is a human right. However, three million Canadians with a print disability can only read seven out of every 100 published books worldwide. Once Canada ratifies the Marrakesh Treaty, people with a print disability will have greater access to published literature in alternate formats, unlocking opportunities for education and employment and providing equal access to all Canadians.”
–Diane Bergeron, Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement, CNIB

Associated Links

Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability

Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Marrakesh Treaty


Social Development Partnership Program – Disability

The Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program supports projects intended to improve the participation and integration of people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. More specifically, the Program supports not-for-profit organizations across Canada in tackling barriers faced by people with disabilities with respect to social inclusion.


Serving Canadians since 1918, CNIB is a registered charity, providing community-based support and a national platform for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, in order to increase public education, develop awareness and reduce stigma surrounding Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. CNIB works with individuals in their own homes, communities or local CNIB offices to help Canadians with vision loss build confidence, gain valuable skills and fully participate in community life and the workplace. CNIB’s primary mandate is to promote an inclusive, accessible, barrier-free society that encourages the independence and success of all blind or partially sighted Canadians. Its Library Services and related initiatives provide accessible materials to all Canadians with print disabilities.

Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty is an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization that was adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, in June 2013.  The treaty aims to facilitate access to published works for persons with print disabilities by providing the material in formats that they can easily use. The Treaty establishes international norms that require countries to provide exceptions in their copyright laws to facilitate the availability of works in accessible formats, such as Braille and audiobooks, for persons with print disabilities. This includes provisions facilitating the acquisition of accessible works from other Treaty countries by non-profit organizations like CNIB.

Accessibility Legislation

The Prime Minister mandated the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, with support from the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, to lead an engagement process with Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories, municipalities, and stakeholders that would lead to the tabling of accessibility legislation.

Further to this, Budget 2016 announced $2 million over two years to support the full participation of Canadians with disabilities in the engagement process. Employment and Social Development Canada is currently working with national disability organizations on an open and transparent process for rolling out this funding.

Minister Qualtrough will be announcing details about the national engagement process for the development of accessibility legislation in the coming weekss – there will be a number of opportunities and ways for Canadians to participate. Once the engagement process has begun, details will be available at Employment and Social Development Canada’s website:

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