WIPO Treaty

Good afternoon, everyone! Today, we have another beautifully written blog post to share with you all. It is important to note that this post is about a time sensitive issue; you’re support is needed. At the end of this post, we’ve added links to articles where you may get more information about the treaty, and sites that provide opportunities for you to help. As always, thank you for reading! Enjoy Daria’s post below:

Ever since I was a child, reading has been something I loved to do. I loved being able to escape from the world I lived in, in favor of another world that was much more adventurous. (I once read forty-five books in one year while in the fourth grade). The older I got, the more reading served different purposes in my life. I was no longer reading solely for the purpose of escaping; I now read because of my eagerness to learn. For instance, when I read books like All Quiet on the Western Front, I learned what it was like for soldiers to serve their country.

While in college, I majored in English, and I read novels such as Franny and Zooey and Invisible Man. But also, I read about disability theory, and have applied that theory to papers I had to write. I write all this to convey that I would not have been able to read all of this material had they not been adapted to accessible formats.

Websites such as bookshare.org have over a hundred thousand books available in accessible formats for people who are blind and for people with print disabilities; magazines and newspapers are also available in alternative formats such as Daisy and digital Braille. The Treaty for the Blind makes this possible because it allows us to have access to materials in alternative formats, regardless of where they are. These materials are needed for an education, employment, and for inclusion in society. Eventually, blind people and people with print disabilities from all over the world will be able to have access to this information. (This is the international treaty’s goal).

However, private interests are trying to make changes to the treaty that could adversely affect our ability to get access to these books. One of the ways they want to make changes to this treaty is by altering its language. The phrase “If you can buy it, you can’t borrow it” could have a drastic affect on future access to books. This means that websites like Book Share may not be able to continue providing accessible materials for people who are blind or who have print disabilities in the US and other countries. Other libraries for the blind could also be affected. For me, this means not being able to just download a book when I wish to read, or have access to magazines that I enjoy perusing.

Though we may have access to some accessible materials, we do not have access to every book or every magazine. If alters to the Treaty for the Blind are made, this access could disappear. This will cause people who are blind to be further isolated from society because they will no longer have access to the materials that will allow them to have an education, nor will they have access to books that can provide a way of escape from their routines. I was fortunate to have that access all of my life, and I want me, and my fellow blind peers, to continue having that access. I also want those people who don’t yet have access to these books to finally be able to read a book or a magazine in a format that will suit them.

For more information about what private interests are trying to do to the treaty for the blind, here are some links to two articles. The first is an article that’s posted on The Huffington Post:
Poisoning the Treaty for the Blind

The second link is to an article on Wired Magazine:
Obama Stops Championing Treaty That Gives the Blind Better Access to E-Books

How you can help:
Sign the petition on Whitehouse.gov to support the treaty: Sign the Petition

Let your voice be heard by submitting a video about the WIPO Treaty to the NFB. WIPO Video Submission Instructions