Panelists discuss how technology can bring books to the blind

May 18, 2015

At a recent WIPO-UN event, panelists highlighted the key role that the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty and the ongoing development of assistive technologies play in addressing the “book famine” faced by persons with print disabilities.

On March 25, 2015, the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) co-sponsored a panel discussion on Innovative Technologies: Making the world of books accessible to people who are print disabled PDF, Program. Panelists spoke at length about the challenges facing persons with print disabilities, in particular about the “global book famine” and of the fact that more than 90% of the world’s books remain out of reach to them.

The panel also spoke of the collaborative efforts taking place both within the UN and wider civil society to ensure that braille, audio and large print books are available to those who need them most. The two key areas identified by the panelists that would continue to drive these efforts are advances in the legal framework, such as the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty, and the ongoing development of assistive technologies. Both these areas were shown to be crucial to building a future where knowledge is accessible for all.

The event took place at UN Headquarters in New York City and was jointly organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Videos of key speeches

Video: For inclusion, for equality, for people:  Mainstreaming disability within the United Nations system

Video of Ms. Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

Video: Creating new avenues for equality: Providing the legal framework to address the global book famine

Video of Dr. W. Aubrey Webson, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, New York.

Video: The road to the Marrakesh Treaty and the creation of the Accessible Books Consortium

Video of Mr. Scott LaBarre, Board Member, Accessible Books Consortium and Representative, World Blind Union.

Video: Perkins and technology: Revolutionizing the way that the print disabled access and read material

Video of Mr. Dave Power, President and Chief Executive Officer, Perkins.

Video: Promoting inclusive education: Using technology to create accessible textbooks for all children with disabilities

Video of Mr. Gopal Mitra, Programme Specialist, Children with Disabilities, Gender Rights and Civic Engagement, UNICEF.