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ARL Celebrates 20th Ratification of Marrakesh Treaty to Improve Global Access to Publications for Print-Disabled Users

image CC-BY-NC-ND by Dominique Archambault

Today, June 30, 2016, Canada acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, becoming the 20th country to ratify or accede to the treaty and thereby putting the treaty into force three months from now, on September 30.

The Marrakesh Treaty, concluded in June 2013 and signed by the United States in October 2013 but not yet ratified by the US, provides minimum standards for limitations and exceptions to copyright law to create and distribute accessible formats for people with print disabilities and allows for the cross-border exchange of these formats.

The first 20 countries to ratify the treaty include, in order of ratification, India, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Mali, Uruguay, Paraguay, Singapore, Argentina, Mexico, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Canada.

Larry Alford, president of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and chief librarian at the University of Toronto, said, “This is a historic moment that will vastly expand access to accessible formats of published works for people with print disabilities, particularly among those countries that share a common language. The quick entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty demonstrates the international support to end the book famine and promote the rights of people who are blind or visually impaired.”

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) strongly supports the Marrakesh Treaty as critical in improving access to publications for the blind, visually impaired, and those otherwise print disabled regardless of where they live in the world. Cross-border exchange is a critical feature of the treaty and could greatly alleviate what is known as the “book famine,” a situation in which the National Federation of the Blind estimates that no more than five percent of published works are created in an accessible format.

ARL celebrates the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty and encourages swift ratification of the treaty in the remaining World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) countries, including the United States.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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