In March 2019, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $22.8 million over five years for the development of an initiative to support the sustainable production and distribution of accessible digital books by Canadian independent publishers. This funding will flow through the Canada Book Fund (Department of Canadian Heritage), with the goal of enhancing capacity so that books are “born accessible” as part of the digital production process. The initiative is market focused and is intended to shift the supply of accessible books from a system that largely relies on an exception to the Copyright Act, to one where accessible books are commercially available to individual and institutional customers at the time of publication.
At the invitation of the Canada Book Fund, the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) and eBOUND Canada and l’Association national des éditeurs de livres (ANEL) developed complementary proposals to conduct research intended to lay the groundwork for future phases of the national initiative. ANEL assumed responsibility for examining the Quebec and Canadian French-language market, with ACP and eBOUND conducting a parallel study in the English-language market.
With the funding support of the Canada Book Fund, ACP and eBOUND’s research took place between October 2019 and March 2020 and included the following components:
i. An analysis of the current landscape for the production and distribution of accessible digital books in Canada, and potential market development for these books in the Canadian English-language market.
ii. Recommendations for the implementation of a national standards and certification program, including defining the characteristics of an accessible digital book.
iii. Development of a national strategy for awareness and training around accessible books for the publishing industry and related sectors.