Joining Forces To Provide More Texts For The Blind
Only about five percent of books are converted into usable formats for the visually impaired. A new treaty between publishers and advocates, designed to address copyright issues, may help end this "book famine."
Two organizations — the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) — have announced that they will partner together to support a treaty that will allow for greater worldwide distribution of published works that can be used by the blind and visually impaired. The proposed treaty, to be discussed at a conference in Morocco next month, will encourage participating countries to soften copyright restrictions that currently make it difficult for modified works to get to their readers. It was crafted by the World Intellectual Property Organization along with advocate groups from across the globe.
What’s the Big Idea?
Approximately five percent of published books are converted into formats, such as audiobooks, that can be used by the blind and visually impaired. This creates a “book famine” that’s not just limited to popular fiction and nonfiction; professional and educational texts are omitted as well. NFB public affairs director Chris Danielsen says simply: “This is not just about ‘Harry Potter.’ It’s a matter of inclusion in education and employment. To have these opportunities available to blind people…is critical to success.”