During the WIPO SCCR discussions on an instrument for the visually impaired on Thursday, 24 November, the library community strongly supported a treaty for person with print disabilities.

In his statement, Stuart Hamilton, IFLA Director Policy and Advocacy, called for a binding instrument: “IFLA believes that a treaty is the necessary conclusion of the great efforts that have been made within this committee in recent years and that now is absolutely the time to do it. IFLA strongly favours a binding instrument – a treaty”.

He cited from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where it is stated that print disabled people have the right to equal access to books, knowledge and information at the same time, cost and quality as everyone else.

Hamilton stressed that disabled people have a right to equal access to goods and services on a par with the able-bodied. So far their access to the right to read has been inferior and voluntary agreements have not succeeded in adequately addressing their needs. He concluded: “Only a binding Treaty can possibly achieve this in a way that will stand the test of time. We urge the Committee to recognise this fact and to agree on a treaty instrument”.

Libraries are key players in the information chain for serving print disabled persons and enjoy a position of trust in the disabled community. IFLA is consequently very keen to see progress in the area of a binding treaty to remove copyright barriers which prevent blind, partially sighted, dyslexic and other “reading disabled” people from accessing books.

Read the full statements made by IFLA and other library associations:

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Canadian Library Association (CLA)

Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)

Library Copyright Alliance (LCA)