9 May 2016

Partners for Accessibility – IFLA and Latin American Blind Union sign Memorandum of Understanding

Equitable access to information is central to the work of libraries. Thanks to libraries, people are discovering the world’s cultural and scientific riches, regardless of their wealth, social status or disabilities.

It is for this reason that IFLA strongly supported the negotiation of the Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled, signed in 2013 in Marrakesh (hence Marrakesh Treaty). This set out a simple principle – that books in accessible formats should be able to circulate around the world, without copyright rules creating artificial barriers. At time of signature, it was estimated that less than 1% of published books were available in a usable form in developing countries. 

We welcome the steady progress towards the entry into force of the Treaty – this will happen when twenty countries have ratified it (i.e. passed the appropriate national laws). But much work remains. IFLA therefore not only encourages national governments to make progress in passing legislation, but is also closely engaged in efforts to make change happen on the ground.

It is in this context that we are happy to announce the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Latin American Blind Union (ULAC), a body that supports national organisations through networking, knowledge production and advocacy training. At the ULAC General Congress on 27 April in Montevideo, Uruguary, IFLA President-Elect Gloria Pérez-Salmerón welcomed the agreement, calling it a 'day of intense and bright light'. 

The agreement will provide a foundation for joint efforts to get the necessary laws in place, and achieve the objectives of the Treaty on the ground. The two organisations will also support broader efforts to implement copyright exceptions and limitations that give libraries the ability to do their job. The agreement is a useful pillar in our broader efforts to ensure that everyone can benefit from access to knowledge and culture.

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Copyright, Services to people with disabilities, Services to the visually impaired, Marrakesh Treaty

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