Following two weeks of negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco, Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) formally adopted a ‘Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled’ on Thursday June 27th 2013. The treaty will be open to signature by WIPO Member States on Friday the 28th.

IFLA strongly welcomes the successful conclusion of a long negotiating process in which the international library community has played a strong part. Working with partners such as the World Blind Union, as well as with WIPO Member States, IFLA and other library groups have consistently sought to highlight the benefits that an international treaty could bring to print disabled people.

Prior to the conference the World Blind Union 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.

 “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the WIPO Diplomatic Conference,” said IFLA President Ingrid Parent. “The treaty that has been concluded in Marrakech will benefit millions of blind and visually impaired people around the world and dramatically increase opportunities for reading and education. Libraries stand ready to help implement the treaty and provide accessible format materials for those who need them most.”

The full text of the treaty is available from the WIPO Website.

Read IFLA’s Closing Statement to the Diplomatic Conference, delivered by Geert Rubens of IFLA’s Section for Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities (LPD).