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WIPO Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Accessible Books Consortium with Nigerian Performing Artist Cobhams Asuquo

April 29, 2024

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) commemorated a major milestone with a celebratory ceremony at WIPO headquarters in Geneva, including a performance by Nigerian artist and singer/songwriter Cobhams Asuquo. ABC was established 10 years ago to deliver books in accessible formats - such as braille, audio, e-text, large print – to people who are blind or otherwise print disabled worldwide.

>From left: Sylvie Forbin, Monica Halil Lövblad, Toju Tuedor, Cobhams Asuquo, Daren Tang (photo: WIPO/Berrod)
From left: Sylvie Forbin, Monica Halil Lövblad, Toju Tuedor, Cobhams Asuquo, Daren Tang (photo: WIPO/Berrod)

In his welcoming remarks, WIPO Director General Daren Tang highlighted ABC’s role in breaking down barriers.

We believe that people who are blind should not have to rely on mere chance or good fortune to get ahead. They should not have to resort to extreme measures to access services. They deserve, and must receive, the same opportunities as everybody else.

Opportunity is what ABC is all about. Its mission is simple but far-reaching: to breathe life into a legal framework, to turn aspiration into action, and to get accessible books into the hands of those who need them.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang

At the ceremony, Asuquo, who was born blind, spoke about leveling the playing field and “taking away the colors, taking away the limitations” ensuring that everyone is “color blind”, referencing the title of one of his songs that he sang, which was about non-discrimination and providing equal opportunity to all persons.  Mr. Asuquo spoke about making it easy for people like himself to have access.   Asuquo had attended law school for three years, where he encountered numerous challenges, including with obtaining accessible course materials. Those challenges eventually deterred him from his university path and led to his decision to pursue a professional music career.

Cobhams Asuquo in concert at WIPO.
Cobhams Asuquo performing at WIPO, Apr. 29, 2024. (Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

In congratulating ABC on its 10 years during the concert, Mr. Asuquo spoke about “ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” adding that everyone has a chance to do something special if afforded the right chance. In particular, he referenced ABC’s partnerships with Nigerian NGOs, which have made accessible educational books more affordable and widely available for people who are print disabled in Nigeria.

Cobhams Asuquo in concert at WIPO.
Cobhams Asuquo performing at WIPO, Apr. 29, 2024. (Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

The Accessible Books Consortium 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.

Other initiatives include the development of an application for the convenient and direct access to the ABC catalogue by people who are print disabled. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, ABC launched online courses in accessible book production in four languages, in collaboration with the DAISY Consortium, thus ensuring continued support amidst unprecedented times. Finally, the establishment of the ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing underlines ABC's role in championing accessibility in the publishing world.


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 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.

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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.

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