Accessible Books Consortium

Accessible Books Consortium

The Accessible Books Consortium (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 is a multi-stakeholder partnership, comprising WIPO; organizations that serve people with print disabilities; and organizations representing publishers and authors.

Contact us to find out about participating or contributing to the Accessible Books Consortium.

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Logos of the 7 umbrella organizations

What does the Accessible Books Consortium do?

The ABC acts as a complement to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Words for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh VIP Treaty). We support the goals of the Treaty through the following practical initiatives, designed to help increase the global availability of books in accessible formats:

The Marrakesh VIP Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013. Full list of countries which have ratified the Treaty to date.  

Capacity building

We are seeking public and private sector partners to work with us on diverse projects to help build the technical skills in developing and least developed countries to produce and distribute books in accessible formats.

Our project in Bangladesh, for example, is training a local organization to produce accessible educational materials in Bengali, and teaching blind students to use reading devices.

Inclusive publishing

Through our inclusive publishing project we are promoting technologies and industry standards which support “born accessible” publishing.  If all new books were produced in such a way as to be usable from the start by both sighted people and people with print disabilities, many lives would be radically transformed.

TIGAR service

We are building an international database and book exchange - the TIGAR service. This already contains over 286,000 titles in approximately 55 languages from the catalogues of libraries from around the world. Our goal is to make TIGAR the premier repository of accessible titles in the world.

The challenge: tackling the global book famine

Some 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired according to the World Health Organization's 2014 estimates. More than 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union (WBU) estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. The lack of accessible books is a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.

The WBU estimates that less than 10% of all published materials can be read by blind or low vision people.

At a time when the sighted public is enjoying unprecedented access to information through the distributive power of the Internet, a combination of social, economic, technological and legal factors still impedes access to published works for people with print disabilities.

The Accessible Books Consortium is working to change this.

Women using a DAISY reading device. (Photo: Mr. Piyush Arora; National Association for the Blind, Delhi).

More about the Consortium

Background

In November 2008, WIPO’s member states began discussing exemptions to international copyright law with a view to boosting the global availability of works in accessible formats. These negotiations resulted in June 2013 in the adoption of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty.

In parallel, under the formerly named Vision IP initiative, WIPO invited key stakeholders to form a Stakeholders’ Platform to work on a number of practical pilot projects, reporting regularly to the SCCR on their activities. 

In May 2014, the Stakeholders’ Platform recommended to WIPO's member states to move from this initial phase to a permanent structure, replacing Vision IP. The resulting Accessible Books Consortium was launched in June 2014.

Governance structure

The Accessible Books Consortium secretariat is located at WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It is audited by the WIPO External Auditor.

The Board, as set out in the Governance Document establishing the Consortium doc, comprises a maximum of 16 members. It is chaired by the WIPO Director General.

The Board provides technical expertise to the Consortium and ensures transparency and efficient communication with the stakeholder community. The Board includes representatives from organizations serving people with print disabilities; organizations representing publishers and authors; and major donors.

Information brochure

Cover of the ABC Information Brochure

Imagine living in a world where you could not obtain the books that you wanted to read...

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Also available in French PDF, Information Brochure in French, Spanish PDF, Information Brochure in French and Portuguese PDF, Information brochure in Portuguese

 

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