Toronto, June 30th, 2016 – Today is an historic day as Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty (full name is the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities). The twenty ratifying countries will be able to enjoy the benefits enshrined in the treaty that are meant to extend the same access to literature and information for print disabled persons that non-print disabled persons already enjoy.
“This is another historical day for our movement,” said Arnt Holte, President of WBU. “It was a great victory when we managed to get a treaty securing accessible books for blind and print disabled persons, but the real victory was achieved today – when Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. The treaty will enter force in three months, on September 30th, and then millions of blind and partially sighted persons will be able to access literature and educational materials, enabling them to better participate in their society,” he added.
The WBU led the international campaign in partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to achieve the development of an international treaty that would put an end to the global “book famine,” which refers to the less than ten percent of published materials being available in accessible formats and often less than one percent in developing countries. The great achievement today offers much cause for celebration for the WBU and its partners.
“After many years of hard work by countless people in the blindness community and partners from a range of sectors, we are now at the start of a new phase of our work,” said Maryanne Diamond, WBU Chair of the Right to Read campaign and a leader in the fight for the Marrakesh Treaty.
However, we still have much work to do in order to end the book famine. “As we celebrate and look to the future, we cannot forget that worldwide ratification is still a long way off,” said Ms. Diamond. “We need to continue our work together to ensure the treaty can be implemented and used by blind and print disabled people irrespective of where they live in the world,” she added.
The WBU calls for every single country to ratify the treaty, and then to effectively implement its provisions for the production and cross-border sharing of accessible works in order to achieve the treaty’s overarching goal of furthering the human rights of persons with print disabilities by promoting their access to literature and information.
To learn more about the Marrakesh Treaty, how it will help end the book famine as well as about our Ratification and Implementation Campaign and what you can do to encourage your government to ratify the treaty, visit our Campaign Page: http://www.worldblindunion.org/ English/our-work/our-priorities/Pages/right-2-read-campaign.aspx
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations run by blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.wbu.ngo
For further information, please contact:
Caitlin Reid, Communications Officer, World Blind Union