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PRESS RELEASE WORLD BOOK and COPYRIGHT DAY APRIL 23, 2015

Access to information is a fundamental human right.  If information is only made available in print and not in braille, large print, or audio formats than blind, visually impaired or print-disabled people can be cut off from knowledge. This impacts on their ability to be fully educated and results in illiteracy and lack of opportunities for millions of disabled people.

 

Only about 7% of the printed books are available in alternative formats, such as Braille, audio, or large print, meaning over 90% of all published materials cannot be accessed by people with vision loss or a reading disability. To combat this book famine, the World Blind Union (WBU), representing the interests of millions of visually impaired people, cooperated with partner organizations and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to create an international copyright treaty. This treaty is known as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

 

The Marrakesh Treaty has been signed by over 80 countries and ratified by 8:  India, UAE, El Salvador, Uruguay, Mali, Paraguay, Singapore and Argentian.  Once ratified by 20 countries it will come into force and will allow for an increase of books in accessible formats through both cross-border sharing of books between organizations serving blind people, and the increased production of accessible books in more countries. 

 

The push is on in 2015 to get countries around the world to ratify the treaty for it to come into force and speed up the availability of accessible books everywhere.  Countries that have signed on to the treaty are listed on the WIPO page: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?lang=en&treaty_id=843  If your country is listed that is great news, however; they still need to ratify the treaty into law for the conditions of the treaty to apply in your country.  If your country has not signed or ratified the treaty, ask your government representatives why they are not supporting your Right to Read.  We (WBU) have created a letter that others can use to encourage their government to ratify the treaty, which is available on our website: http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/our-work/our-priorities/Pages/right-2-read-campaign.aspx

 

“We believe information is power and access to information is a fundamental human right.”  Maryanne Diamond, President of IDA.  Blind and partially sighted people have a right to read, just like everyone else, to participate successfully in their societies as well as in education, study, and at the work place. Therefore, all published books must be available for visually impaired persons in alternative formats at the same time and price as they are released in standard print.

 

Penny Hartin,

WBU CEO

Penny.hartin@wbuoffice.org

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