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December 3rd, International Day for Persons with Disabilities

This year the World Blind Union focuses on the success of the Marrakesh Treaty, which changed international copyright laws to make books more accessible for millions of disabled people.
 
The implementation of this treaty (formally called The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Person and Persons with Print Disabilities) around the world means that millions of people will gain access to books and other published materials in formats that make them easy to read. Prior to this treaty, international copyright laws prevented many blind people from getting books in accessible formats such as braille, large print or as audio-books. Countries that sign on to the treaty agree to share accessible books across international borders and produce more books in accessible formats for their print-disabled and blind citizens and students. This opens the doors of knowledge to millions of men, women and children around the world who could not get many popular books and magazines due to copyright restraints. In fact, prior to the Marrakesh Treaty, only 5% of all books were available in accessible formats. 
 
Imagine walking into a bookstore and 95% of all the books on the shelves not being available to you. 
As a literate person, you would be quite disappointed. As a student, you would be limited in what you get to learn.
 
The WBU is very grateful for all the hard work and negotiations that went into creating this “book treaty” and to the countries that have already signed on to the treaty. We hope more governments will sign on in 2014 and those that have signed, will soon ratify this important treaty. This will allow organizations that serve blind people to share their accessible libraries across borders, thus saving these organizations money on unnecessary duplication of the same books. For more information on the Marrakesh Treaty, connect to the WIPO website: www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/marrakesh/, or WBU website: www.worldblindunion.org