Stevie Wonder to UN Member States: Help Others Beat the Odds Like I Did, Join Marrakesh Treaty

December 5, 2016

Recording legend Stevie Wonder marked the December 3, 2016, International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a call for United Nations Member States to join the Marrakesh Treaty.

Speaking to delegates at UN headquarters in New York, Mr. Wonder said the “Books for Blind” treaty represents a “life-changing opportunity” for hundreds of millions of people living with visual impairments around the globe, primarily in lower-income countries. “I beat the odds,” he said. “Imagine if others like me were given the opportunity to function at their full potential, how much better our world would be.”

Video: Stevie Wonder speaks about the Marrakesh Treaty at the UN, where delegates marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Transcript of Mr. Wonder’s remarks

"We have seen 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. Incredible. Imagine if others like me were given the opportunity to function at their full potential, how much better our world would be."

“Just two months ago I was happy to know that the Marrakesh Treaty had entered into full force, ending the book famine for many visually impaired persons. Out of the millions of publications that are released every year, as few as 5 percent have been made available in accessible for persons that are visually impaired around the world.”

"The treaty will greatly expand the availability of published works in accessible formats such as Braille, large print and audio books. Twenty five states have ratified the treaty, but we need more countries to join in - especially countries who are major producers of special format books to ratify the treaty so that its benefits can be widely enjoyed throughout the world. This is a truly life changing opportunity. It opens the door to the world’s knowledge to the visually impaired people."

"Ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty is one way that countries can live up to their obligation under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. That includes fulfilling the provisions of Article 21 to provide information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technology and Article 24 to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels. These are among the fundamental rights spelled out in the Convention that we have an obligation to promote and protect and we are here today to remind ourselves of this duty."