WIPO’s Accessible Books Consortium Hits One Million Titles with Royal National Institute of Blind People Partnership

July 2, 2024

Blind and partially sighted readers will have access to more titles thanks to an agreement signed recently by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) of the United Kingdom with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to join the ABC Global Book Service.  

The addition of the leading UK sight loss charity’s collection to the ABC catalogue will raise the number of accessible titles made available by ABC under the framework of the Marrakesh Treaty to more than one million books. 

There are around two million people in the UK living with some form of sight loss. Through this partnership, RNIB will enable blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled people to obtain accessible books in more than 80 languages. In return, RNIB’s large collection of high quality accessible books will become available to ABC beneficiaries around the world. 

A woman with headphones wearing a turquoise blue top and dark trousers is sitting on a brown leather sofa. From over her shoulder we can see she is listening to the RNIB Reading Services site on her mobile phone
(Image: rnib.org.uk)

Alison Long, Director of Consumer and Business Services at RNIB said, “We are thrilled to join ABC’s Global Book Service to increase the number of accessible books available for blind and partially sighted readers. We are advancing our shared goal of making books and educational materials available to everyone, regardless of their abilities and linguistic background. Knowledge and stories can be enjoyed by all, and play a vital role in creating a more inclusive society.”

The ABC Global Book Service is one of the world’s most diverse online catalogues of books in accessible formats, including audio, braille, e-text and large print. It provides participating libraries for the blind, known as authorized entities, with the ability to search, order and exchange accessible format copies of works across borders at no cost.  Participating authorized entities pool their collective resources by sharing their respective catalogues and accessible format copies of works with each other. 

ABC also offers a beneficiary application free of charge to participating authorized entities located in countries that have both joined and transposed the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty into national law. The beneficiary application gives patrons of participating authorized entities the ability to search and immediately download accessible format copies of works contained in the ABC catalogue.

Monica Halil Lövblad, Head of the ABC added, “This new collaboration between ABC and the RNIB is a testament to our continuous efforts to expand the availability of accessible books and reach a greater number of potential beneficiaries worldwide. By joining forces with institutions like RNIB, we break down barriers to information and education, ensuring that everyone can enjoy titles wherever they are, and in whatever language they choose.” 


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.

About ABC

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a public-private partnership led by WIPO that, together with its many partners around the world, has had real impact over the past decade.  Since its inception, the ABC Global Book Service catalogue has quadrupled in size to nearly one million titles thanks to the inclusion of the collections of participating authorized entities. ABC delivered a total of 164,000 accessible digital files from the ABC catalogue to persons with print disabilities through its authorized entities in 2023. In addition, through ABC’s training and technical assistance partners, almost 20,000 textbooks have been made accessible in over 40 low-income countries, improving access to education for thousands of young people. ABC was established in June 2014 to implement the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty.

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About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are. 
RNIB. See differently. Visit RNIB   

About WIPO

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.