BLIND CITIZENS AUSTRALIA–
On behalf of Australians who are blind or vision impaired, Blind Citizens Australia wishes to commend the Government on the commitment shown to increasing access to printed materials for people with a print disability through the signing of the Marrakesh Treaty.
The Marrakesh Treaty is an international treaty on copyright which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Its purpose is to facilitate and increase access to published works for people who are blind or vision impaired, as well as people with other print disabilities. Although the Treaty was established in 2013, it will not come into effect until three months after it has been ratified by 20 countries.
While we greatly value the progress that has been made through the signing of the Treaty, we strongly urge the Attorney General to give ratification of the Treaty a high priority in the coming months.
At present, only around 5% of all published works are available to people who are blind or vision impaired in accessible formats such as audio, large print and Braille. The Marrakesh Treaty presents an opportunity to bridge this access gap by allowing organisations to share published works directly with people with disabilities, as well as allowing for cross-border sharing of content that has already been reproduced in accessible format.
For far too long, there has been a heavy duplication of resources amongst charitable organisations that are not only responsible for reproducing books in accessible formats, but also face significant financial constraints. Allowing cross-border sharing will address this problem and mean that people with a print disability around the world will ultimately have access to a far greater number of book titles.
“Access to information is crucial to many facets of life, including education and employment. The increased access to published works that the Treaty can offer is therefore critical in maximising the participation of Australians who are blind or vision impaired,” said BCA President, Greg Madson.
The ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty would align closely with the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which are reflected in the Government’s National Disability Strategy 2010‑20. Australia also has the opportunity to take the lead on this issue by being one of the first governments to ratify the Treaty worldwide.
“By ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty, the Federal Government can help to end the book famine for Australians who are blind or vision impaired once and for all,” said Mr Madson.
Blind Citizens Australia National President
Mobile: 0408 396 333
National Policy Officer
Blind Citizens Australia
Phone: (03) 9654 1400
Freecall: 1800 033 660
Mobile: 0437 355 985
ABN: 90 006 985 22