June 21, 2013
Music legend Stevie Wonder appealed to more than 600 negotiators from WIPO’s 186 member states to finalize their discussions in the coming days and conclude a new international treaty to ease access to books for blind, visually impaired, and other print disabled people. Stevie said he would share in the celebrations once the treaty is concluded.
“Let’s get this “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (and) I’m Yours,” Stevie said to the tune of one of his biggest hits in a video statement to negotiators. ”Do this and I will come to Marrakesh and we will celebrate together.”
“We stand at the cusp of a momentous time in history,” he added. “All of you – great minds representing governments around the world - have the opportunity to right a wrong. You are in the final sprint of a marathon that has spanned many years, but time is short and there is still much more work to be done to complete this historic treaty.”
The Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, convened by WIPO and hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco, is meeting in Marrakesh from June 18 to 28, 2013. A signed treaty would improve access for the blind, visually impaired, and print disabled to published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books.
The award-winning musical genius, who has been blind since shortly after birth, reiterated: “The time has come. Today. Not tomorrow. Today. The world’s blind and visually impaired are counting on you. I am counting on you. Don’t let me down. But most of all, please don’t let them down. This is our legacy. Your gift to future generations. So, let us at last finalize this new agreement and open the doors to the world’s written treasures, moving toward a future where there are no barriers to the expansion of knowledge and the enjoyment of culture. Even for the visually impaired.”
Stevie Wonder, a prolific singer-songwriter with 49 top 40 hits, 32 number 1 singles and over 100 million unit sales, is a strong supporter of the treaty. In 2010, he made an emotional appeal to negotiators to speed up their work “to end the information deprivation that continues to keep the visually impaired in the dark,” and urged negotiators to put ideological differences aside.