The Right to Read 

One of the things that I have always loved ever since I can remember is reading. It is amazing to sit down and just escape into a good book. There were always things that I missed on TV and in movies growing up due to my sight loss, but I never missed anything in the stories I read.

When I was younger, I was able to read large print, but so many of the popular books that my peers were reading I could not get in large print. There was not a lot of access to audio or eBooks then either. Due to this, I did not read as much as I would have liked because those options did not exist yet.

This issue also affected me in school because the books that we read in school were never in large print or audio. As a result, I had to have a teacher or teachers aid read them too me which made me feel singled out. I could read and I wanted to read independently. I remember being in grade nine or ten and thinking this is ridiculous. Why do I not have the same access to literature that the rest of the world does?

I came across the issue of not having the same access to text books in university. Today this is still an issue as I want to take a course to gain some skills for my job but I can’t take the course because there is no accessible version of the text book. This makes me crazy that in this day and age we can make cars drive us around by a computer, but we can not provide everyone of every ability EQUAL ACCESS to print materials.

I read a lot. I use audio books, eBooks, electronic Braille and print Braille. On more occasions than I can count, when I want to read the latest hot book I can’t because it is not produced in a format that I can access.

There are more than three million Canadians across Canada that are living with a physical, visual or learning disability. The fact that only 2,000 of the 10,000 books being produced across Canada are in accessible formats is disappointing. I find it even more upsetting that many of those titles are being produced by a charity, CNIB. A charity should not be faced with producing accessible materials, it should be something that is required by law and funded by the government.

Access to literature is a basic human right, it is the only way that someone who is blind or partially sighted will have the same access to education and employment. If I told half of the people I knew that they could not read the things they needed to for work because the books were only produced in Braille and not in print that would never be accepted so why are we allowing it the other way around?

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