ABC Partner Profiles: Mexican Organization for the Promotion of the Integral Development of People with Visual Impairment
May 8, 2023
WIPO’s Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is launching the first in its “Partner Profiles” series to highlight the important work that its partners are performing to support people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled in their countries.
After gradually losing his sight following a sports accident in 1966, young business student Ignacio León Robles Robles decided to channel his passion for entrepreneurship towards supporting the needs of people who are visually impaired. Among the many initiatives he undertook, he established a middle school for the blind thirty years ago that today bears his name, launched a project for orientation and mobility that became a guide dog training center, became the first legislator with a disability in his country, and established a braille printing center and a digital talking book project. Some of these initiatives later evolved into the Organismo Mexicano Promotor del Desarrollo Integral de las Personas con Discapacidad Visual I.A.P. (the NGO) as it is today (the Mexican Organization for the Promotion of the Integral Development of People with Visual Impairment).
Ignacio León Robles Robles (left). Ángel Eduardo (center) and Rosalía (right), two students who benefit from the work of ABC’s partner NGO in Mexico.
Mr. Robles was driven by the belief that people with disabilities are productive and purposeful and that, given the right tools, can be fully autonomous and independent. Building on this foundational principle, in the 1980s this NGO became one of the first organizations in Latin America to own and manage a braille printing press.
As the NGO's team began to acquire skills in the production of accessible books and establish a positive rapport with their beneficiaries, they became increasingly able to make a difference in Mexico. Their work in this domain contributed to the creation of public policies in favor of access to information, education and culture for students with visual disabilities, enabling them to attend mainstream schools thanks to the publishing of educational textbooks and materials that had not previously been available.
Rosalía and Ángel Eduardo are two of the many students whose lives were touched by the NGO’s work. Ángel Eduardo was born blind and Rosalía lost her vision at age six as a result of an incorrectly prescribed medication. They are among the nine million individuals who identify as visually impaired in Mexico. (Source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI))
The NGO has accompanied Rosalía and Ángel Eduardo throughout their schooling career, providing various support and services, notably the conversion of required curricular materials into accessible formats that they could read.
Today, Ángel Eduardo, 18, is finishing high school and wants to study music and audio engineering. Ángel Eduardo says he would like to make accessible content and teach other people how to use different information technologies in the future. In his words, “disability is not an impediment to success […] we must value and accept it like any part of our body.”
Rosalía, 24, completed a degree in Special Education. She is planning to obtain an advanced degree in the field of Psychology and in ten years she sees herself living in London and working as a psychologist. Rosalía stated, “People with disabilities deserve to be taken into account. I am not saying that the world does not do so, but there is still a long way to go. There is a considerable lack of inclusion.”
Through the diligent and dedicated work of ABC’s partner NGO, new opportunities are arising for many more students like Rosalía and Ángel Eduardo in Mexico. People who are visually impaired are being trained in the use and management of technical devices and accessible formats, which increasingly allows them to gain access to information, thereby upholding their rights to education and culture.
Between 2018 and 2021, ABC established a training and technical assistance project with its Mexican partner. ABC trains organizations in the latest tools and techniques for the production of accessible educational materials and encourages them, in turn, to train others and transmit these skills locally. In particular, ABC provided training in the production of audio formats to augment the NGO’s knowledge base. The goal is to ensure that ABC partners are able to produce educational titles that are part of the national school curriculum in accessible formats independently and efficiently, and in alignment with industry best practices.
Over the course of its training and technical assistance partnership with ABC, the Organismo Mexicano Promotor del Desarrollo Integral de las Personas con Discapacidad Visual I.A.P. produced 320 copies of educational titles in various digital accessible formats. The NGO is also a participating member of the ABC Global Book Service, which offers an online catalogue of over 830,000 books in accessible formats available at no cost to organizations serving people who are print disabled.
According to a 2017 study published in The Lancet, approximately 253 million people are blind or visually impaired world-wide. Nearly 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. A lack of accessible books remains a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.
The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a public-private partnership led by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that brings together all of the key players – organizations representing people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled, authors, publishers, collective management organizations, libraries and other authorized entities, as well as standards bodies. ABC was established in June 2014 to implement the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty. Through an effective international alliance of relevant state and non-state actors, ABC seeks to increase, and distribute, the number of books worldwide in accessible formats - such as braille, audio, e-text and large print.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.