ACB Calls On WIPO Negotiators to Stop Stalling and Start Working to End the Worldwide Book Famine

For Immediate Release
 
Contact: Mitch Pomerantz
President
American Council of the Blind
Phone: (626) 372-5150
E-mail: mitch.pomerantz@earthlink.net
 
ACB Calls On WIPO Negotiators to Stop Stalling and Start Working to End the Worldwide Book Famine

As delegates enter the final days of a diplomatic conference in Marrakech, Morocco to negotiate an international instrument aimed at providing people who are blind or have other print-reading disabilities with greater access to books, there is growing concern that time will run out before issues that are crucial to the effective implementation of such an instrument get resolved.  ACB's Executive Director, Melanie Brunson, who is attending the conference as part of the World Blind Union's delegation, explained that this agreement is supposed to make it easier for producers of books in braille, large print, and audio formats to share them across borders, thereby increasing the number of books that are accessible to people who are blind, or have other print-reading disabilities around the world.  She observed that delegates have been meeting for seven days now, and have spent most of their time arguing over secondary issues instead of focusing on provisions that will help to reach this goal.

Brunson noted that some observers fear the instrument is becoming a treaty to protect rights holders from people who are blind instead of a treaty to provide access to books for people who are blind.

ACB urges delegates, particularly those from the United States and the European Union, to quit stalling and playing politics with the future of their citizens who are blind.   ACB president Mitch Pomerantz says, “Even in the best of circumstances, we only have access to about 5 percent of the books published in the U.S. each year.  That percentage drops dramatically for blind people living in less developed countries.  The time to act to change this is now! We are counting on this body to do the right thing and end our book famine."

About the American Council of the Blind 
The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society.  For more information, visit www.acb.org; write to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.