Conferences and Events Highlights: February 2014 – Part 3

By Benetech, posted on

Geneva Report: Towards Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty to Bring Accessible Books to People with Disabilities

In Part 3 of this blog series, we highlight a report by our CEO, Jim Fruchterman, from Geneva, Switzerland on the latest developments regarding the Marrakesh Treaty to bring accessible books to people with disabilities around the world.

Benetech has supported the efforts to pursue the Treaty for over five years and participated in the negotiations that led to its adoption in a Diplomatic Conference convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in June 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco. This historic treaty paves the way to expanding the access to books for people who are blind or otherwise print disabled and provides the necessary legal framework for organizations, like Benetech and our Bookshare initiative, to deliver those books to people across international borders.

Now that sixty-odd countries have signed the Marrakesh Treaty, the emphasis has switched to implementing it. Earlier this month, Jim flew to WIPO headquarters in Geneva to participate in a series of meetings with stakeholder groups working to address the need to change laws and get more accessible books flowing.

Jim has written a detailed report on his trip, which you can read in full on his personal blog. The big news is that there was one significant area of consensus at the meetings: all of the stakeholders want publishers to sell accessible books through their normal business channels—a concept participants at the meetings call Inclusive Publishing, or what we at Benetech refer to by our Born Accessible Global Literacy initiative. The stakeholders also agreed on establishing the Accessible Book Consortium, which would wrap together efforts by countries trying to create accessible book services.

While in Geneva, Jim also briefed the WIPO team working on these issues about Bookshare efforts to expand its services internationally, such as our work bringing Bookshare to India as a prototype of what we could be doing for people with print disabilities in other countries.

“We hope to figure out a way to work with WIPO,” says, Jim, “in order to offer Bookshare to the poorest countries of the world.”

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series on our blog.