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The United States of America has joined WIPO’s fast-growing Marrakesh Treaty as its 50th member, adding a major global publishing center to the Treaty that promotes the increased worldwide availability of texts specially adapted for use by persons with visual or print impairments.
The U.S. is home to the largest number of English-language texts in accessible formats, such as Braille, for use by people living with print or visual disabilities. The Treaty eases the creation and international transfer of accessible texts among its 50 contracting parties, which cover 78 countries (including the 28-member European Union).
When the Treaty takes effect in the U.S. in three months, some 550,000 accessible texts will become immediately available to visually impaired persons living in Marrakesh Treaty-adherent countries, according to figures from the U.S.-based National Federation of the Blind.
“The Marrakesh Treaty is WIPO’s fastest-growing treaty and we hope it becomes a universal one soon, so visually impaired people in every corner of the globe can more easily benefit from learning and culture no matter where it is created,” said Mr. Gurry. “The U.S. already houses the world’s largest repository of accessible English-language material, representing a major increase in the global resource base for visually impaired people living in countries that have joined the Marrakesh Treaty,” he said.
“I’m proud of American leadership and the USPTO’s efforts in the negotiation of the Marrakesh Treaty, and the opportunities that our ratification creates for the blind and visually impaired community in the United States and around the world,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “This treaty establishes an important mechanism to both protect intellectual property rights and expand access to information and resources.”
“The United States’ formal membership in the Marrakesh Treaty marks a major achievement for our country and a significant positive step forward for the millions of persons who are blind and visually impaired throughout the world,” said Karyn A. Temple, Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office. “The United States will now join our fellow nations in promoting greater accessibility to print materials around the globe.”
“The National Federation of the Blind seeks the removal of all artificial or unnecessary barriers to access to knowledge by the blind,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “That is why we championed the Marrakesh Treaty and fought for its signing and ratification by the United States. Today’s deposit of the US ratification instrument represents the culmination of that effort, but even more importantly, it represents greater access to the world’s literature and knowledge for blind people in America and across the world. We are therefore pleased to celebrate this historic moment with our blind brothers and sisters everywhere.”