LPD Statement VITreaty 2016

by Karen Keninger, Chair of IFLA section LPD

The members of IFLA's Section for Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities, comprising 80 library organizations, also represent the views of many other organizations such as schools, transcribers, software and hardware producers, providers and brokers that distribute accessible reading materials to persons with print disabilities.  We acknowledge with appreciation the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Member States' agreement to create an effective Treaty at the Diplomatic Conference held in Marrakesh in June 2013. This, when ratified, will deliver tangible benefits to more than 285 million visually impaired or otherwise print disabled people who have been deprived for too long from equitable access to reading materials and information. 

The full text of the Marrakesh treaty in print, audio, Daisy, and Braille formats is available on the WIPO website.

It is only through access to reading that people can participate in education, work, culture and civic activity, and so improve the quality and wellbeing of their lives. The Book Famine, that has been caused in large part by international copyright constraints, has the result that print disabled people are deprived of the opportunity to read the same book, at the same price, and at the same time as the rest of the world. Libraries and other voluntary sector providers of books in accessible formats around the world waste scarce resources because they have had to duplicate transcription and production efforts.

At long last there is a real chance to overcome the shortage of accessible reading and information by using internet delivery and increasing ways of reading the growing quantity of digital content.

By strengthening the international copyright framework, this Treaty provides a unique and truly historic opportunity for Member States and involved parties to attack the book famine and to dramatically improve the life opportunities of more than 285 million print disabled people.

Some concrete examples of benefits that will be delivered with the help of the Treaty are as follows. The Treaty will:

  • Meet increasing demand for accessible works to be made available between countries/communities that share a language, e.g. Spanish,French,  Arabic, Chinese, English to name but a few.
  • Support developing economies who cannot afford to produce resources but could particularly benefit from greater access to resources made elsewhere in the world
  • Help print-disabled refugees, immigrants and other diaspora who need to access content made elsewhere, in the context of greater mobility around the world
  • Protect the interests of rights holders by having a clear framework in place
  • Increase the overall amount of accessible books and information and the timeliness of publication
  • Empower people individually to become more effective members of society together with the result of reducing poverty, unemployment and crime

These benefits transcend the technicalities and subtleties of judicial debate.

The urgent needs of all the world’s print disabled people are at risk because of undue focus on legislative details.

We also refer to the Guide for libraries of EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries, a not-for-profit organization), who is supporting ratification of the treaty and implementation into national copyright law.

We call upon Member States and the involved parties to stay focused on the necessary benefits and outcomes.

As Government, Ministers, Parliamentarians, educationalists, leaders of business and of local communities, please campaign for the early ratification by your Government of this effective Treaty that will improve the lives of  all the visually impaired and print disabled people in your country, leading to a more equitable and non-discriminatory society.

Publications, Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities

Last update: 15 May 2018