In this issue
- Letter from CELA’s Executive Director
- Canada Reads shortlist announced
- Update on CELA’s Expanded Delivery Options Project
- Meet our Expanded Delivery Options Project team
- Catch us on the radio
- Accessible Publishing Summit
- Featured title for adults
- Top five books
- Featured title for kids
- Top five for kids
- Top five for teens
- Webinars for you
- Stay connected!
Letter from CELA’s Executive Director
Happy New Year!
January has proven to be a busy month for CELA. Our Expanded Delivery Options Project is well underway and we are looking forward to gathering feedback from our participants on our first option, a low cost audiobook player called the Envoy Connect. We have more information about this project in this newsletter and on our blog. The three Peer Trainers hired to support this pilot project have already hosted an excellent webinar about Accessible Reading in the Digital Age. I wanted to invite you to get to know these new CELA team members by reading our interview with them in this newsletter.
We have also been delighted to participate in a variety of events including the Triple Vision and Blind Beginnings podcasts, and World Braille Month sessions. The recordings of the World Braille Month sessions are being hosted on the Braille Literacy Canada Youtube channel and the last ones will be added in the next few days so you can watch them at your leisure. We were thrilled to work with our colleagues at CCB, PRCVI, NNELS, BLC and CNIB to deliver these sessions.
On the book front, we are so pleased to be working with Canada Reads again this year to provide accessible versions of the featured books, ensuring that folks across the country can participate in these debates. The full long list is available in our collection so do check them out. We also continue to add NLS titles with more than 12,000 audio titles having been added in the past 6 months. And more books continue to be added through our partnerships and collaborations with publishers. There’s lots to read and I hope you will find something that captivates you.
CELA Executive Director
Canada Reads shortlist announced
Again this year we are excited to partner with Canada Reads and CBC Books to provide accessible versions of the Canada Reads titles to those with print disabilities.
The long list was announced on January 27, 2022.
This year the selected books are meant to inspire readers to reflect on community and who we are in the world we live in. The champions will advocate that their book best exemplifies the theme: One Book to Connect Us. This year’s shortlist includes:
- Life In the City of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Müller defended by forest ecologist and author Suzanne Simard
- Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez defended by actor and activist Malia Baker
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan defended by Olympian and LGBTQ2+ advocate Mark Tewksbury.
- What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad defended by entrepreneur and former Syrian refugee Tareq Hadhad
- Five Little Indians by Michelle Good defended by Ojibway author and Vogue fashion writer Christian Allaire
The debates take place March 28-31 and will be broadcast on a number of platforms including CBC TV, CBC Radio One, CBC Gem. The Canada Reads page has more information about the champions, the books and authors and the events happening in advance of the debates. This year CBC has launched a Facebook group for those who want to read the books and discuss them. Find all the information on the Canada Reads webpage.
Update on CELA’s Expanded Delivery Options Project
For several months, CELA has been hard at work on our Expanded Delivery Options Project which is testing three new ways to deliver accessible reading materials to our users. The pilot will evaluate a small, low cost portable player called the Envoy Connect, a DAISY player with a reloadable storage option, and a voice assistant solution which operates using smart speaker technology.
In December, we hired three Peer Trainers to support our pilot participants, answer questions and receive feedback. As part of their work, the Peer Trainers have created an informative webinar called "Accessible Reading in the Digital Age: Finding the Right Tech that Works for You." This is a comprehensive overview of current accessible technology and how those technologies can be used to read a variety of materials. If you missed this webinar, we invite you to check out the recording on our Youtube channel.
The Peer Trainers have also been supporting participants and answering questions for the Envoy Connect pilot which was launched in December. Many people have received their players or can expect to receive them in the mail shortly. To date, over 200 players have been sent out to pilot participants, with more being sent out in the coming days and weeks.
We are also grateful for the positive response we have already received for the Smart Speaker component of the project. Pilot participants will have a chance to try out either an Amazon Echo or a Google Home smart speaker with their CELA books. We have paused our recruitment efforts while we contact those who have already expressed their interest in participating.
For more information about the pilot project and the various delivery options we are exploring, check out the Expanded Delivery Options Project webpage. For questions related to the devices, or help for pilot participants, please contact the Peer Trainers at email@example.com or call 1-855-655-2273 and select option 3. We look forward to providing updates on the project in future editions of Open Book and on our website.
Meet our Expanded Delivery Options Project team
CELA has recently hired 3 Peer Trainers to support our Expanded Delivery Options Pilot Project. It was important for the people in these positions to bring lived experience, a knack for supporting others and technical knowledge. We couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce these friendly and highly-qualified colleagues to our users.
Rosalie Best hails from Manitoba where she graduated from University of Manitoba after completing her studies of English Literature. She then went on to work as a career counselor helping people with disabilities join the workforce, first at Premier Choix where she worked in the French community, then at Vision Loss Rehabilitation Manitoba. Most recently she worked with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities where she delivered webinars to employers on proper workplace accommodation. As a disability rights activist, she often speaks to the media about accessibility issues and her experiences living with Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disease, and using a power wheelchair.
One of Rosalie’s goals for the pilot is to help people understand the devices and to show them that new technology isn’t something to fear. She’s looking forward to developing training materials which will help people continue to use the devices once the pilot is complete.
Yves Séguin also uses his experience to advocate for people with disabilities. During his 30-year career in the federal government, he was involved in various human resources functions, and managed a technology centre for federal employees with disabilities. He used opportunities in public speaking engagements and presentations to influence hiring managers so they could look beyond the disability and focus on the potential of the person they were about to hire. Working with CELA as a Peer Trainer, he draws on his experiences of living with a visual disability and his professional experience supporting small groups and individuals to assist CELA users, making them aware of new possibilities, and giving them confidence to access reading materials in various new ways.
Yves commented that "it is encouraging that most patrons who are reaching us are appreciative of the assistance we can provide, and they welcome the opportunity to be part of the pilot project to test new ways of accessing reading materials."
Ioana, our third Peer Trainer, has a unique set of qualifications. She’s a professional classical guitarist and has performed and taught in many countries around the world. Blind since birth, she now lives with her husband and guide dog in Montreal where she co-moderates a list for visually impaired accessible technology users. She says she has been drawn to this work, partly because of her experience and enjoyment of learning from the group and sharing tips including from the wonderful instructions on technology she received from the Montreal Association for the Blind. A self-declared “geek” she has always been fascinated by technology and how it might enhance her life.
Ioana shared that for many years she wanted her blindness to be irrelevant in her professional life but came to more fully embrace the insights and hurdles her visual disability offers. Now she wants to use her roles as a performer, speaker, teacher and Peer Trainer to inspire others and help change perceptions about people with disabilities in general.
As a Peer Trainer, Ioana finds it rewarding to help remove barriers to accessible reading. “I have heard such enthusiasm from patrons wanting to get a chance to be part of this project. It is a real honour to listen to their feedback and pass it on. I appreciate that CELA has provided the community with the opportunity to make sure their point of view about emerging reading technology is heard and taken into account.”
Leading our Peer Trainer team is Virginia Systma, who joined CELA as the Project Coordinator. Trained as a librarian, Virginia was familiar with CELA and its services before joining the team. She had recently obtained a certificate in Project Management and the Project Coordinator position seemed like a perfect fit for professional and personal reasons. Virginia shared that “in 2019, I was designated legally blind. I have been low vision my whole life but experienced a significant change in my vision at that time. Since then I have learned a lot about adaptive technologies and tools that I never had access to before. I started using a white cane, which allowed me to feel safer and more independent when I leave the house. I also started using more eBooks as they let me increase the size of the font and I found it so much easier to read. Having lived most of my life without access to services because I didn't fit into the LB designation, I have a full appreciation for how life changing accessible technology can be. Once I had access to these services I was able to live a fuller and more independent life.”
As the Project Coordinator, Virginia has been instrumental in organizing all areas of the project, supporting the Peer Trainers and preparing to receive and evaluate the feedback from participants. And while the work has been interesting, what really excites Virginia is the possibilities of the pilot project. “This project is an opportunity to provide even more options for technology, which increases accessibility for CELA users. Everyone's disability is different, so providing flexibility in service offerings is important. It means that people can choose the right device for them.”
The entire CELA team is grateful for the support our bilingual Peer Trainers are offering CELA’s users during this pilot project.
Catch us on the radio
We’ve been busy chatting with colleagues and friends over the past few weeks.
Laurie Davidson spoke with Triple Vision about the history and the future of library services for those with print disabilities.
Communications Manager Karen McKay joined Pikora from NNELS to talk about library services with Shawn from the Blind Beginnings podcast.
And Karen and Theresa Power, our Content and Access Librarian, have a regular book discussion with Ramya and Nisreen on AMI’s Audiobook Review podcast.
Accessible Publishing Summit
The organizers of the Accessible Publishing Summit are opening some of the Summit’s sessions to the public, including the Industry Updates & Expert Perspectives, EPUB demonstrations and panel discussions.
These select sessions will be live-streamed to the NNELS YouTube page on Wednesday February 16 and Thursday February 17. Panel discussions from later on Day 2 of the Summit won’t be live-streamed, but will be available on YouTube following the summit.
Featured title for adults: Unprotected: A memoir
It's easy to be yourself when who and what you are is in vogue. But growing up Black and gay in America has never been easy. Before Billy Porter was slaying red carpets and giving an iconic Emmy-winning performance in the celebrated TV show Pose; before he was the groundbreaking Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of Broadway's Kinky Boots; and before he was an acclaimed recording artist, actor, playwright, director, and all-around legend, Porter was a young boy in Pittsburgh who was seen as different, who didn't fit in. At five years old, Porter was sent to therapy to "fix" his effeminacy. He was endlessly bullied at school, sexually abused by his stepfather, and criticized at his church. Porter came of age in a world where simply being himself was a constant struggle. Porter is a multitalented, multifaceted treasure at the top of his game, and Unprotected is a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice.
Top five books
Most popular with our readers this month:
- Danger in numbers by Heather Graham Romantic suspense
- Our darkest night: a novel of Italy and the second World War by Jennifer Robson Bestsellers (Fiction)
- State of terror: A novel by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Louise Penny Suspense and thrillers
- The madness of crowds (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache) by Louise Penny Mysteries and crime stories
- There plant eyes: A personal and cultural history of blindness by M. Leona Godin Blindness and visual impairment
Featured title for kids: Spell sweeper
Featuring a failed young wizard and her cleanup crew, this delightfully dysfunctional middle grade fantasy is an imaginative twist on magic school that's perfect for fans of Nevermoor and The School for Good and Evil. Cara Moone is a wizard - but she's basically flunked out of wizard school. Now she's in training to be a MOP, also known as Magical Occurrence Purger, also known as it's Cara's job to sweep up the hazardous dust a real wizard's spells leave behind. A real wizard, that is, like Harlee Wu, the so-called Chosen One destined to save the magical world. But when one of Harlee's spells goes awry and leaves behind a rift in the fabric of magic itself, it'll take more than magic to clean up the mess. Luckily, messes are kind of Cara's thing. Magic is messy - and fantastically fun - in this underdog story packed with humor, adventure, and attitude.
Top five for kids
Most popular with kids this month:
- The dragonet prophecy: Wings of fire series, book 1 (Wings of Fire) by Tui T Sutherland
- Judy Moody (Judy Moody Ser. #1) by Megan McDonald
- The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga #book 1) by David A. Robertson
- The complete chronicles of Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia Ser.) by C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes
- Diary of a wimpy kid: old school (Diary of a wimpy kid. #10.) by Jeff Kinney
Top five for teens
Most popular with teens this month:
- The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom
- Hatchet: Hatchet series, book 1 (Hatchet) by Gary Paulsen
- Shelter (Mickey Bolitar) by Harlan Coben
- Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
- The two towers: being the second part of The lord of the rings (Lord of the Rings #2) by J. R. R. Tolkien
Webinars for you
Learn more about CELA and our services with our free webinars.
Starting with CELA: finding and getting books and magazines
Have you recently registered for CELA or would like a refresher on how to find and read books and magazines? We’re pleased to share how you can find and read the near 1 million titles available to you in this 45-minute webinar.
- Discover how to access a book or magazine using CELA’s site: log in, search, get a book and read on your device
- Do you prefer to choose books by phone? Find out how you can learn about new titles and request the ones you like
- Learn about our loaning rules and how to return materials
- Find tutorials and videos for more help
CELA and EasyReader – Get Started using CELA’s Accessible Reading Collection and Dolphin’s FREE Talking Book App for People with Print Disabilities
Dolphin and CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access) are excited to offer you a FREE training opportunity that will show you how to seamlessly search and read CELA books on your iOS, Android and Fire devices. You will learn who qualifies to be a CELA Patron, how to get Dolphin’s free App EasyReader, and how to fully customize your reading experience. We’ll even provide a “cheat-sheet”, copies of session slides and a recording of the webinar to refer to and to share with friends or colleagues afterward. Get reading today with CELA and EasyReader!
To register for the webinar choose the link below: