Access to published works for persons who are blind or visually impaired: one step closer

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the United Nations agency “dedicated to the use of intellectual property as a means of stimulating innovation and creativity”. Established in 1970, their mission is “to promote innovation and creativity for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries, through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system”.

Their Member States have recently adopted and signed a ‘Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled’.

According to the IFLA, “the World Blind Union  (a global organization comprised of organizations in 190 countries as well as international organisations) estimated that only 7% of published books are ever made accessible (in formats such as Braille, audio and large print) in the world’s richest countries, and less than 1% in poorer ones. The treaty sets out to solve this ‘book famine’ by creating a copyright exception to facilitate cross-border transfer of books. As a result the amount of material available to the visually impaired community around the world is expected to substantially increase as nations are able to share or make accessible copies for the print disabled in other countries”.

The full text (in six different languages) of the treaty is available at this link.

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