Over 42,000 new titles uploaded to the ABC Global Book Service

November 16, 2018

Four new catalogues of accessible titles containing over 42,000 titles were recently uploaded to the ABC Global Book Service.  These collections were supplied by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) of Canada, the Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped (CLFB) of Israel, the Daisy Lanka Foundation (DLF) of Sri Lanka and the Fundación Braille del Uruguay (FBU) of Uruguay and contain works in French, Hebrew, Sinhalese and Spanish, respectively.

With the addition of these new catalogues, over 243,300 titles are now available for cross border exchange without the need to request permission from the copyright owner, for those organizations serving people who are print disabled that are located in countries that have implemented the provisions of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty.

In early 2018, William’s father contacted Vision Australia’s librarian, Anthea Taylor, looking for an audio format version of "Island: the collected stories of Alastair MacLeod". Read the full case study. (Image: Getty Images/johavel)

Preferred format

The majority of these new titles are in audio and are narrated by a human, a format preferred by many blind and visually impaired users, in contrast to a computer synthesized voice reading a text. With 10 different accessible formats to choose from, including audio, refreshable braille and braille music scores, libraries and print-disabled users should be able to find easily works in their favorite format in the ABC Global Book Service.

Currently, 46 organizations from around the world have joined the ABC Global Book Service, which enable them to exchange accessible books in over 76 languages, all for free.

ABC and the Marrakesh VIP Treaty

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and its partners created the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) in 2014 to help implement the objectives of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty at a practical level. The Marrakesh VIP Treaty, which is administered by WIPO, addresses the “book famine” of accessible titles by requiring that countries that ratify the Treaty adopt national law provisions that permit the production of books in accessible formats, such as braille, e-text, audio or large print, by organizations known as authorized entities that serve people who are print disabled. The Treaty also requires that countries that join allow for the exchange of accessible texts across national boundaries, without the need to request permission from the copyright owner.

Case study: A boy named William

Since the coming into force of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty and the establishment of the ABC Global Book Service, many people with a print disability have benefited from greater access to books published in accessible formats such as large print, braille or audio.

Vision Australia, a participating library of the ABC Global Book Service, has seen many patrons benefit including 17 year old William. In early 2018, William’s father contacted Vision Australia’s librarian, Anthea Taylor, looking for an audio format version of Island: the collected stories of Alastair MacLeod.

William was about to commence his final year of secondary school and the book was on his English reading list. Although William probably wanted to enjoy the remaining summer holidays, his father was keen for him to read the book before school resumed.

Vision Australia did not have a copy, nor was it available to purchase or import to Australia in a standard or accessible audio format. It was also not possible to produce the audio book in the required timeframe.

Anthea Taylor, using the ABC Global Book Service catalogue, identified that the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) had produced a DAISY audio version and it was available for exchange.

The request was submitted via the Service and because this was needed promptly for a student, an email was sent to CNIB to ask for a quick turn-around of the request. Since both Australia and Canada have ratified and implemented the provisions of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty into national law, the audio book was able to be exchanged; it was received overnight and in William’s hands the next day.

William’s father David said the stress and frustration of not having access to an important year 12 text in audio format was immense.

"You can’t imagine the sheer release of pressure and the delight we felt when we were supported through the Vision Australia Library and the Accessible Book Consortium to get the required text for William,” David said. “As the stories are set in Nova Scotia, the human narration with a Scottish accent made it very real and put it into context of the situation. That would not have been achieved with a synthetic voice."

Without the Marrakesh VIP Treaty or the ABC Global Book Service, providing William with this book in a timely manner would not have been possible.

Anthea Taylor
Anthea Taylor, Manager Accessible Information Library Services, Vision Australia (Photo: Vision Australia)

About the Accessible Books Consortium

The Accessible Books Consortium is a public – private alliance led by WIPO; it includes the World Blind Union, the DAISY Consortium, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; the International Authors Forum, the International Publishers Association, and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations. The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats and to make them available to people who are blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.

Some 253 million people worldwide are visually impaired according to the World Health Organization's 2017 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.

For further information, please visit our website at www.AccesssibleBooksConsortium.org or e-mail us at: accessible.books@wipo.int.