Barnier wants to improve access to books for the visually impaired
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Thursday 26 July 2012
Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier has welcomed the results of the negotiations, held from 16 to 25 July in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), to facilitate access to books by visually impaired persons.
The objective, said Barnier, must be to “make books accessible to them at the same time and at the same price” as others. The EU executive nevertheless needs a mandate from the Council of Ministers to defend the EU’s message in WIPO. Barnier requested such a mandate from the 27 on 8 June and hopes to obtain a binding agreement from the EU’s international partners.
NEW INTERNATIONAL TREATY
The commissioner supports the adoption of a new international treaty that would do away with copyright-related obstacles encountered by the blind, the visually impaired and persons who have difficulty reading print and that hinder their access to copyrighted works. In the absence of progress in the negotiations, the World Blind Union has withdrawn from the WIPO platform of stakeholders and the EU stakeholders’ dialogue of last February.
“I urge all parties to negotiate rapidly so that a diplomatic conference can be convened in 2013,” reads a statement by the commissioner. There is huge room for progress: only 5% of books published worldwide are accessible to the blind, according to the World Blind Union. Together with this NGO, the European Commission wants to raise this figure to 100%. It is supportive of all forms of accessible format (braille, audio, etc), with no restrictions.