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WBU statement for World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2018

April 23 is marked annually as the World Book and Copyright Day. On this occasion, the World Blind Union highlights the importance of books and promotes its vision of inclusive societies where people with visual disabilities can freely access and share printed materials across borders without discrimination.

With fewer than 5% of published works accessible to people with visual disabilities worldwide, and fewer than 1% accessible in the developing countries, the World Blind Union is pushing for the ratification and implementation of Marrakesh Treaty by all countries. The Treaty calls on countries to modify their national copyright laws to permit the production of accessible works. The Treaty also authorizes cross-border exchange of accessible works and permits direct distribution of accessible materials to individuals—critical for people in poor countries that may not have libraries or schools for the blind to manage distribution.

The President of the World Blind Union, Dr. Fred Schroeder, observes that for the Marrakesh Treaty to fulfill its potential, more countries must participate in the sharing of accessible works. "As more countries ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, more and more books will become available for distribution. The real impact will come when the countries that produce large numbers of accessible books ratify the Marrakesh Treaty", says Dr. Schroeder. Read more on WBU website​.

In Latin America, for example, where most of the countries have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty, many visually impaired people and institutions for the blind across the region are able to download more than 56,000 titles of accessible books. The books are available at the Tiflolibros library in Argentina, the first ever digital library for the blind in the region. According to Pablo Lecuona, Director & Founder of the library,​ there is an increasing number of alliances that are producing and sharing accessible books across the Latin American region. For example, Ecuador recently shared about 5,000 new books, both digital and audio, which will be incorporated and made available to users through the library. ​"Our objective is to reach users all over the world as more countries ratify the Marrakesh Treaty", says Mr. Lecuona.

In recognition of the World Book and Copyright Day, the World Blind Union wants all countries to ratify and properly implement the Marrakesh Treaty to enable people with print disabilities have full access to books and other printed works. To date, only 35 countries have ratified the Treaty. 

The World Blind Union further calls on governments to stop imposing laws and regulations that restrict cross border sharing of books and other print works. In addition, the WBU wants governments to consult with print-disabled people, disability rights groups and national human rights institutions regarding the appropriate measures to implement the Marrakesh Treaty. Such consultations are the best way to ensure that the Treaty is practically effective in achieving its important objectives. 

Read more about the Marrakesh Treaty on the WBU website​

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The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku
Communications Officer, World Blind Union

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