Marrakesh VIP Treaty: Major Step for Accessibility

Burkina Faso ratifies Marrakesh Treaty making books accessible for people with visual impairments
Blind girl writing braille

Light for the World and the National Union for People with Visual Impairment (UN-ABPAM), amongst other organisations, lobbied tirelessly for Burkina Faso to ratify the Marrakesh VIP Treaty, in order to make books accessible for visually impaired people. In developing countries less than 1% of books are available in accessible formats for blind, partially sighted and print disabled people.  

The treaty was adopted in Marrakesh in 2013. It allows for copyright exemptions facilitating the creation of accessible book versions and other copyrighted works for visually impaired people. Since its inception, 32 countries have ratified the treaty, with Burkina Faso recently following suit.

Nafisa Baboo, Senior Inclusive Education Advisor at Light for the World, said: “This is a major breakthrough for our work in inclusive education. It’s the first step in making school books fully accessible for visually impaired children. Up to now the copy right laws prevented many accessible books from being published in an accessible formats, such as braille and audio books, and to be shared across borders. For example, this means that a braille or audio version of a novel for literature studies produced in France or Burkina Faso can be reproduced and exported to Togo. We’ve been planning a project on accessible publishing and assistive technology, to establish an accessible books library and technology centre for some time now. This news contributes massively to making it a success.”

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in collaboration with all major stakeholders in Burkina Faso and the Daisy Consortium supported a scoping visit and capacity building exercise to develop a comprehensive strategy that looks at developing sustainable solutions to providing educational material, books and other knowledge resources in accessible formats. The strategy will aim to provide basic infrastructure for registering print-disability users, increase knowledge and skills among users, develop the capacity of the government and publishers to produce accessible information, and ensure that appropriate assistive devices are made available to those who need them. Funding to support aspects of the strategy is currently being sourced.