The Marrakesh Treaty In Action

The Marrakesh Treaty eases the production and transfer across national boundaries of books that are specially adapted for use by people with visual impairments, most of whom live in lower-income countries.

WIPO member states agreed the text of the “books for the blind” treaty in 2013 in the Kingdom of Morocco and the agreement came into effect on September 30, 2016. As a result the Treaty’s benefits can now flow to beneficiaries in contracting countries.

The Treaty means cost savings, economies of scale and, principally, more books for more people.

We have seen that, when powered and enabled, persons with disabilities, or persons who are differently abled, have so much to contribute to society. I am just one example of someone who was abled differently and yet I beat the odds [...] Imagine if others like me were given the opportunity to function at their full potential, how much better our world would be.

Stevie Wonder

Recording legend Stevie Wonder speaking on 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Quotecard: 391,000 titles in accessible formats are available through the ABC Book Service for readers who are blind or have low vision
Millions of people in the world who are blin dof visually impaired will be able to read books in accessible formats.
Quotecard: Less than 10% of all published materials are accessible to blind or low vision people.

The challenge

Some 285 million people are living with visual impairments around the world, according to the World Health Organization, and many struggle to gain an education and employment.

So far, only a small proportion of published texts are originally made available in accessible formats – such as Braille – tailored for use by people with visual impairments. Some refer to this gap as a “book famine.”

A center for visually-impaired people in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. (Photo: WIPO)

How the Marrakesh Treaty works

Joining

Countries that join the Marrakesh Treaty bring with them a wealth of published works that can be adapted for visually impaired people, as well as a population of potential beneficiaries. Each nation that joins the Marrakesh Treaty magnifies the positive effects of the agreement. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry has called on member states to join the Marrakesh Treaty.

Stevie Wonder calls on UN member states to join the Marrakesh Treaty.

Implementing

Once a country joins the Marrakesh Treaty, the focus turns to implementing it on the ground. Capacity building and technical assistance activities help develop the infrastructure necessary to create, manage and distribute accessible texts. As a leader of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), WIPO assists countries with maximizing the benefits of the Treaty.

The Accessible Books Consortium helps visually impaired people by increasing the number of books available in accessible formats.