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ICEVI promotes ratification of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty

       I write on behalf of the International Council for Education of People with Visual
       Impairment (ICEVI), to urge ratification of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty and
       implementation of fair and balanced copyright laws.
       ICEVI is a membership organisation with the Mission to promote access to inclusive,
       equitable and quality education for all people with visual impairment. ICEVI’s Mission is
       closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, ‘ensure inclusive
       and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. We
       strive to achieve our Mission and Goals through the work of the ICEVI global Executive
       Committee, regional and national ICEVI committees, and our partner members. Current
       priorities include the provision of technical and advocacy support in the field of education
       for children with visual impairment to government ministries, United Nations agencies,
       and the global education community.
       Fundamental to realising SDG4 and the educational and employment potential of all
       children, is access to quality education services and programs. For children with visual
       impairment, this includes access to curriculum-based information and textbooks on the
       same basis as sighted children. Children with visual impairment require opportunities to
       create, read and share books and other cultural materials in accessible formats (e.g. large
       print, braille, audio, digital). However, in many countries, restrictive copyright laws have
       resulted in what is termed “the global book famine” by the World Intellectual Property
       Organization (WIPO).
       WIPO estimates that only 1-7% of books are published in a format that can be read by the
       285 million children and adults worldwide who are blind or visually impaired. WIPO stated:
       Without books, journals and magazines, people are cut off from life. They cannot gain an
       education or participate fully in society. They cannot realize their full potential.
       That is not just a loss to them – it is also a serious loss to the economies and societies
       they live in.      (WIPO, 2016)
       ICEVI urges national governments to address the global book famine by ratifying the
       WIPO Marrakesh Treaty and implementing fair and balanced copyright laws that facilitate
       information access across and within national borders. Furthermore, we encourage
       national governments to implement policies that require publishers to produce “born
       accessible” textbooks and other curriculum materials, that is, materials in formats that are
       useable directly from the publisher by children who are sighted or visually impaired.
       In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, we encourage national representatives of
       publishing industries, authors, libraries, copyright and disability associations, government
       departments, and accessible format providers to come together to build government,
       business and community awareness of accessible content and inclusive publishing.
       The acquisition of education, learning and skills is essential in building human capital and
       national prosperity, and in enriching the lives of individuals by raising aspirations and
       promoting employment, earnings and health (World Bank, 2018).  ICEVI is inspired by the
       United Nations’ vision of education as transformative to the lives of individuals,

       communities and societies, leaving no one behind.
       We ask you to promote the national adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty, combined with
       changes, where needed, to national copyright laws, as an effective means of expanding
       the availability of copyrighted works to children with visual impairment or other print
       disabilities.
       Sincerely yours,

       Frances Gentle, AO, PhD

                    Web: www.sancb.org.za Address: 514 White Street, Bailey's Muckleneuk, Pretoria Email:frm@sancb.org.za   5
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