Skip to main content

Access for Persons with Print Disabilities

International activity

ABC 

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a multi-stakeholder partnership, comprising WIPO; organisations that serve people with print disabilities; and organisations representing publishers and authors, as well as RROs, represented by IFRRO. Its objective is to increase the number of books available in formats to persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled all around the world. In this respect, it complements and facilitates the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty on access to accessible format copies.

The ABC sprang out of the stakeholder platform established at the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and related Rights in November 2008. It is governed by a Board, made up of stakeholder representatives, the IFRRO CEO being one of them, and chaired by the WIPO DG.

It focuses its activities in three directions:

  1. Promoting accessible publishing, which aims at making it more cost-efficient for publishers to produce born accessible book;
  2. the building of an international database for the exchange of books in accessible formats - ABC Global Book Service; and
  3. capacity building, directed primarily towards developing countries, which do not have up-to-date knowledge and capabilities to produce books in accessible formats.   

More information about ABC can be found in the ABC brochure and on the ABC website

ABC Global Book Service

The ABC Global Book Service is an international database of books in formats accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired or, otherwise print disabled, across borders. It is hosted by WIPO, and contains currently titles in accessible formats in over 80 languages. 

For more information about the ABC Global Book Service, please visit: http://www.accessiblebooksconsortium.org/globalbooks/en/

WIPO Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled (available here) was adopted at a WIPO Diplomatic Conference which concluded on 28 June 2013. The Treaty entered into force on 30 September 2016, and in July 2020, there were more than 60 contracting parties, with 94 countries being bound by it.

The complete IFRRO legal analysis of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty can be found here. We would also recommend Prof. Mihály Ficsor’s comprehensive article.

The Treaty allows countries in which RROs administer statutory licences in respect of accessible format copies to maintain such arrangements. IFRRO also continues to encourage RROs to respond positively to requests from authors and publishers to facilitate the making and cross-border exchange of accessible format copies, including participating in relevant ABC activities, such as assisting in rights clearance related to works made available through the ABC Global Book Service.

In 2018, IFRRO published a guide to facilitating access to works by the print disabled, which includes an overview of the key provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty, which is available here.

Regional activity – Europe

  • Implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty

The European Union (EU) ratified the Marrakesh Treaty on behalf of its Member States on 1 October 2018 (see here for further information), and the Treaty entered into force for the EU on 1 January 2019. 

The Treaty requires contracting parties to adopt national law provisions permitting the production of books in accessible formats, such as braille, e-text, audio or large print, by authorised entities” and allows for the exchange of such accessible texts across national boundaries, without authorisation from the copyright owner. The EU subsequently adopted Directive 2017/1564 and, as well as Regulation 2017/1563 dealing with the cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies (see here).

All EU Member States have now implemented the Directive into national law (see here for details of the relevant laws in all 27 EU Member States). There is some flexibility as regards how the Directive is implemented, so there are differences between the national laws. For example, it is optional for Member States to include a provision making permitted uses by Authorised Entities in their territory subject to compensation schemes.

Under the terms of the Directive, the European Commission shall by 11 October 2020 present a report containing an assessment of the appropriateness of broadening the scope of the Directive in order to improve access to other types of works and other subject matter and to improve access for persons with disabilities other than those covered by this Directive.

The Directive also requires the Commission by 2023 to carry out an evaluation – including of compensation schemes – accompanied by a proposal to amend the Directive if appropriate.

  • European Disability Act

Directive (EU) 2019/882 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (see here) aims to increase the availability of accessible products and services, including ebooks, in the EU’s internal market and improve the accessibility of relevant information.

As well as general accessibility requirements, the Directive includes additional accessibility requirements related to specific services, including for e-books (Annex I, section IV (f)), as follows:

i. ensuring that, when an e-book contains audio in addition to text, it then provides synchronised text and audio;
ii. ensuring that e-book digital files do not prevent assistive technology from operating properly;
iii. ensuring access to the content, the navigation of the file content and layout including dynamic layout, the provision of the structure, flexibility and choice in the presentation of the content;
iv. allowing alternative renditions of the content and its interoperability with a variety of assistive technologies, in such a way that it is perceivable, understandable, operable and robust;
v. making them discoverable by providing information through metadata about their accessibility features;
vi. ensuring that digital rights management measures do not block accessibility features.

EU Member States have until the 28 June 2022 to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive and must apply those measures from 28 June 2025.

IFRRO publications in accessible formats on RRO activities 

IFRRO offers the following links to assist Visually impaired readers have access to its booklet on Collective Management in Reprography

La gestión colectiva en el ámbito de la reprografía (Spanish DAISY Book - full audio and text (40Mb)

La gestión colectiva en el ámbito de la reprografía (Spanish DAISY Book - text only (200Kb)

Collective Management in Reprography (English DAISY Book - full audio and text 25Mb)

Collective Management in Reprography (English DAISY Book - text only 200Kb)

The DAISY book is a file set with various types of files. It must be downloaded and extracted to a folder (usually with the book 's name). It is opened by opening the opf file. So the user must download the zipped file and extract the content. The full audio book has the advantage of being possible to hear on any mp3 playback device, besides its use on a computer. The text only version can be played by any DAISY 3.0 software player (you can use the free player, DDREADER, see below) and will use the machine's TTS voices. It has the size advantage. It is important to note that it is a DAISY 3.0 book.

DDReader is available to download here. You must have Firefox installed in English, Spanish or Portuguese and a voice for each language you want to use.

IFRRO Resources to help RROs to assist authors and publishers provide appropriate access for VIPs

IFRRO Guide: Facilitating Access to Works for Print Disabled Persons

To help RROs in assisting authors and publishers in providing appropriate access to their works the IFRRO Board has approved the following documents

Mandate for Alternative Format Licensing VIP
VIP Licence
Annex to agreements between RROs
Template seeking a licence VIP

Author and Publisher Resources on accessibility 

International Publishers Association

Elsevier

HarperCollins Publishers