Source: Australian Blindness Forum

On 30 June 2016, the World Blind Union announced that Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for People who are Blind, Visually Impaired or otherwise Print Disabled. This is an historic achievement after many years of campaigning in the blindness sector worldwide to put an end to the global ‘book famine’.

The global book famine 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 Marrakesh Treaty will come into force on 30 September 2016 and means 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.

Millions of blind and partially sighted people will be able to access literature and educational materials, enabling them to better participate in their society.

ABF, Australia’s representative to the World Blind Union, congratulates the Australian Government on being one of the 20 countries to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. ABF is now urging the Australian Government to pass the current amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 that are ready and waiting to be introduced into Parliament.

These proposed amendments were intended to underpin the Marrakesh Treaty in Australia ensuring the provisions for the production and cross-border sharing of accessible works would be easily accessible to all Australians. It is crucial that these amendments are passed 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.

“The 20th ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty is a great achievement but we still have work to do”, said Tony Starkey, ABF Chair. “In Australia, it is vital that the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act are passed by Parliament as soon as possible. This will ensure all Australians who are blind or vision impaired can maximise the benefits of the treaty, ending the book famine in this country.”

ABF is also calling on all countries to ratify the treaty, particularly the United States of America and the United Kingdom, who hold the majority of English language content across the world.

ABF is seeking any support from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to encourage the USA and UK ratify the treaty.

For further information about the Marrakesh Treaty please visit the World Blind Union website:

Tony Starkey
Australian Blindness Forum
0408 666 170
ABN 47 125 036 857
PO Box 1188
Canberra ACT 2601