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World Braille Day 2014

This World Braille Day, we the World Blind Union call on the governments of all nations to sign and ratify the UN’s Marrakesh Treaty that will allow blind and partially sighted people the right to more books in accessible formats such as braille, large print or audio-books by altering international copyright laws.
We celebrate Braille Day on January 4th in honor of the birth of Louis Braille in 1809, the inventor of the braille system. His creation of braille 190 years ago as a tactile means to represent the alphabet letters (and numbers) in a series of 6 dots paired up in 3 rows, allowed books to be produced in a format that thousands of blind people can read using their finger-tips to distinguish each letter and word. This enables blind students to be educated alongside their peers, and blind people to read any book transcribed in braille the same way other people read print versions. Braille is used to replicate alphabets for most of the world’s spoken languages.
Braille has empowered tens of thousands of blind people all around the world over many decades, and could be used to educate and empower millions more. Unfortunately, braille books must stay within the country where they are produced due to restrictive international copyright laws. Braille books cannot be shared across borders, so millions of blind people cannot read if accessible books are not produced within their own country. Currently, only 5% of all published materials get produced in accessible formats. Less than 10% of all blind children in developing countries go to school due to the lack of accessible teaching materials. The World Braille Foundation works to provide braille books and skills to teachers to help blind students learn and succeed in many African countries, India and Cuba as well.
The Marrakesh Treaty is the name of the international agreement finalized in June 2013 that would allow copyright exceptions for published works to be made widely available in accessible formats. Once governments implement the Marrakesh Treaty blindness organizations will be able to share their resources with other organizations in developing countries that may not have the capacity to produce books for their blind citizens.  Blind schools like Perkins would be able to send books to other schools so blind children who cannot afford to buy braille books will still have access to the required textbooks. ONCE in Spain could make their braille library available to the blindness organizations in Spanish-speaking countries in South America, thus saving the costs of reproducing the same books for each separate country. This sharing of resources can only happen if this treaty becomes law in countries around the world.
We ask everyone to encourage your government representatives to table legislation in 2014 to make this treaty a reality that will benefit millions of blind and print-disabled people worldwide. Our letter asking governments to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty can be read on our website: www.worldblindunion.org/English/news/Pages/WBU-letter-to-all-governments.aspx
You can download the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to see what it allows in terms of sharing books across borders, and producing accessible books here: www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/wipo_treaties/details.jsp?treaty_id=843  
For further information, contact:
 
World Blind Union
Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer 
 
Euclid Herie
President, World Braille Foundation