EIFL is supporting a major awareness-raising campaign to encourage ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in the Asia-Pacific Region
(30 November 2017) EIFL is supporting a major awareness-raising campaign that aims to encourage countries in the Asia-Pacific region to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty which increases access to knowledge for blind, visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled people.
The campaign is being launched to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2017, which is observed annually to promote the rights and wellbeing of people living with disability.
Partners in the campaign, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Blind Union – Asia Pacific (WBUAP) and EIFL, have released an issue brief and infographic to raise policy, stakeholder, and public awareness about the Marrakesh Treaty. Organizations serving blind and visually impaired people in the region will use the issue brief to advocate for ratification of the Treaty in their countries.
The goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to help end the book famine, the fact that only about 7% of published works are made available globally in accessible formats, such as Braille, audio and large print, and digital formats. This problem is partly due to barriers created by copyright law, barriers that the Treaty seeks to remove.
Visual disability in Asia
According to the issue brief, the Asia-Pacific region is estimated to have the world’s largest number of persons with blindness (21.4 million) and moderate to severe visual impairment (135 million). A rapidly ageing population and the rise of diseases such as diabetes in the region will further increase the number of print disabled persons, the brief says.
“For too long, people who live with visual impairment and other reading disabilities have lacked sufficient access to published works in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Nadia Rasheed, Team Leader, HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub.
“Expanding the ratification and implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty to more countries in the region is of critical importance to ensure realization of the fundamental right to information and knowledge and to realize a more inclusive world for all.”
So far only a handful of countries in the Asia-Pacific region have ratified or acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty. These are Australia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Sri Lanka (as of November 2017).
The role of libraries
Libraries are key to the success of the Marrakesh Treaty for two main reasons. Throughout the world, libraries have a long history serving people with print disabilities. Under the Treaty, blind people’s organizations, libraries and other so-called ‘authorized entities’ can send accessible format copies to other countries.
“Throughout the world, libraries are one of the primary sources of reading materials in accessible formats,” said Rima Kupryte, EIFL Director. “EIFL is strongly committed to speedy ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty that creates new opportunities for libraries to vastly improve services to people with print disabilities, thereby improving lives and increasing life-chances.”
Find out more
Follow the campaign on twitter: #IDPD2017 #MarrakeshTreaty
Download the Issue Brief in PDF and accessible formats including electronic braille, ‘accessible’ Word, plain text HTML, and MP3 audio.
The announcement is here.