Accessible Books Consortium

First Cross-Border Book Transfer by ABC Following Entry Into Force of Marrakesh Treaty

September 30, 2016

To mark the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty, WIPO has organized a symbolic transfer of accessible books in audio format from Canada to Australia through the book service of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)

The transfer from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to Vision Australia via the ABC Book Service means that Vision Australia does not need to reproduce the books themselves, thereby incurring savings of approximately USD 2000 per book. 

Improving lives

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty which can now begin boosting the number of specially adapted texts for the benefit of blind and otherwise print-disabled people around the world.  The “books for blind” treaty entered into force on September 30, 2016, three months after it gained the necessary 20 ratifications or accessions by WIPO member states.

“This is a wonderful day for visually impaired people around the world, who will from today begin benefiting from an increase in number of texts tailored for their use,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “This is also an important victory for multilateralism and the international community, which showed its ability to come together to improve the lives of people around the world , bringing literacy and the opportunity of literacy to visually impaired persons worldwide.”

...[the international community] showed its ability to come together to improve the lives of people around the world.

WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry

Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled facilitates the creation and transfer across national boundaries of specially adapted books, such as Braille, audio or large print, for use by visually impaired people that the World Health Organization estimates number 285 million worldwide, as well as millions of additional print-disabled persons.

A Vision Australia library patron listening to an audio book.  (Credit: Vision Australia).

Being able to access titles not available in Australia will assist with the growth of our library collection and provide our clients with a broader selection of books in accessible formats to suit their needs.

Anthea Taylor, Manager, Vision Australia Library Services

Anthea Taylor, Manager, Vision Australia Library Services remarked "Vision Australia is thrilled that our library clients will be the first to benefit from the Marrakesh Treaty through the symbolic exchange of titles from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Being able to access titles not available in Australia will assist with the growth of our library collection and provide our clients with a broader selection of books in accessible formats to suit their needs. We are also looking forward to exchanging DAISY and Braille titles we have produced at Vision Australia with other ABC participating libraries whose governments have ratified the Treaty."

Background on the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)

The Accessible Books Consortium is a multi-stakeholder alliance, comprising the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); organizations that represent people with print disabilities, including the World Blind Union; libraries for people with print disabilities; and organizations representing publishers and authors, including the International Publishers Association and the International Authors Forum. The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print – and to make them available to people who are blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.

The ABC Book Service (i.e., TIGAR) is a global online catalogue of books in accessible formats managed by WIPO at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  It provides participating libraries with the ability to search and make requests for accessible books.  The Service is an international library-to-library technical platform that supports the Marrakesh Treaty’s goals.  Through the Service, libraries serving the print-disabled can supplement their collections of accessible books from their counterparts in other countries. Nineteen libraries in 16 countries are already participating in the ABC Book Service and the catalogue now contains over 319,000 titles in more than 76 languages.

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