Blind Citizens Australia Celebrates Better Access to Books as Government Ratifies Marrakesh Treaty

Members of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) will be celebrating across the country today as the Australian government takes an important step towards providing better access to books by ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Treaty, which will come into force after twenty countries ratify, will allow an exchange of accessible books across the globe. At the moment accessible books in a range of formats such as Braille, large print and audio can only be produced and shared within any one country. Each country’s copyright laws can limit how easy it is reproduce a book so it can be read; in Australia only about 5% of all books are currently available to people who are blind or vision impaired.

“Accessible books are a precious commodity if you’re blind or vision impaired,” said Emma Bennison, President of BCA. “Not only is access to information a basic human right, but access to books can give us so many other things: an education, a source of fun, and a path to better self expression.”

The development of the Marrakesh Treaty has been led by the World Blind Union, working in conjunction with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). It was first signed in Morocco in 2013.

“We congratulate the Australian government for their long term leadership regarding this treaty,” said Blind Citizens Australia CEO, Leah van Poppel. “They’ve supported the Australian former President of World Blind Union, Maryanne Diamond AO, as she worked tirelessly to promote the Treaty. Now we’re one of the first twenty countries to ratify.”

Media contact: Leah van Poppel, Blind Citizens Australia CEO

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