Treaty inked in Marrakesh (Morocco) giving blind, visually impaired better access to books

Treaty to help visually impaired get access to books signed in Marrakesh (Morocco)

A significant treaty was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco, that will make access to books for the visually impaired, blind and print disabled easier.

The negotiations were facilitated by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for the Marrakesh Treaty’ to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled.

How will the treaty help the visually impaired?

The treaty will provide access to books for the visually impaired by requiring its contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats through limitations and exceptions to the rights of copyright right holders. The issue of copyright was playing a hindrance in providing the visually impaired access to knowledge. The treaty allows the waiver of copyright restrictions in order for books to be available in formats such as formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books.

The treaty also provides assurances to authors and publishers that that system will not expose their published works to misuse or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries.

Why do we need this treaty?

There are an estimated 285 million blind and partially-sighted people in the world, of which the largest percentage lives in India. Only 1 to 7% of all books published are available in formats accessible to them. India’s key campaigner for the treaty, the late Rahul Cherian of Inclusive Planet had anticipated the possibility of such a treaty.