An initiative to increase production and dissemination of accessible format books for blind and print-impaired readers in developing countries has been launched by a group of international bodies.
Members of the new Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) include the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO); the World Blind Union (WBU); the DAISY talking book format; the International Publishers Association; and the International Authors Forum. It is intended as a stop-gap measure pending implementation of a WIPO treaty on access to printed works for blind and print-impaired people, signed in July last year.
The ‘Marrakech Treaty’ will eventually allow exceptions to international copyright laws permitting sharing of accessible printed materials, but must first be ratified by 20 countries, a process still being completed.
Maryanne Diamond, chair of the WBU’s ‘Right to Read’ campaign, told E-Access Bulletin the consortium will be testing some elements that need to be in place for implementation of the treaty.
“[It] provides the opportunity to trial different ways to get books in the hands of persons who are blind,” Diamond said. “It will undertake capacity building of: publishers to publish accessible [books] and organisations in developing countries to produce and distribute accessible books,” she said.
Further work will focus on will focus on boosting demand for accessible books among groups of blind and print-impaired people in developing countries, including work already underway in Bangladesh.
Other areas of work for the ABC include talking with publishers and (printed materials) rights holders, and urging them to publish their texts in accessible formats. Once the Marrakech Treaty is fully ratified, the body’s work will scale back, Diamond said.