EU backs treaty to produce disabled-friendly books

UN agreement now expands to 70 countries The 28-nation European Union on Monday ratified the Marrakesh treaty to ease access to reading material for people who are print-disabled the world over. The coverage of the 2013 United Nations treaty now expands to 70 countries across the globe, according to a World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) press release. With the decision, over 2,70,000 titles would be available to be shared globally. At the ratification ceremony in Geneva, Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General, commended the EU’s commitment to the Marrakesh treaty as “ensuring that the multilateral system works for the widest public good”. He urged countries remaining outside the framework to join, “so we can make this a universal, worldwide treaty so visually impaired people can benefit from any accessible book that is produced in any corner of the globe.” India was among the earliest to ratify the Marrakesh treaty in June 2014. The Sugamya Pustakalay, a government-backed private initiative, has been engaged in the creation of accessible texts in several Indian languages. The governments that are party to the Marrakesh accord are obliged to adopt laws authorising the conversion of books into accessible formats such as Braille, e-text, audio and large print by designated organisations. They are also allowed to exchange these alternative formats across national borders without clearance by copyright owners. The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a stakeholder forum established in 2014 at the WIPO headquarters, assists in the implementation of the Marrakesh provisions. The promotion of capacity building in the developing world to generate accessible texts and the dissemination of inclusive publishing practices are among the ABC’s activities.

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