Over 30 million visually impaired people across the European Union were granted a fresh start in their access to books and other print materials in accessible in May last year, after the European Union received a go-ahead from the Maltese presidency, which enabled the Marrakesh Treaty legislation to be passed by the European Parliament.

This big milestone has been strongly welcomed and supported by the international community, creating waves of positive action. Recently, International Publishers Association (IPA)’s President, Michiel Kolman and Vice President, Hugo Setzer, were seen promoting the Marrakesh Treaty on a World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) platform for jumpstarting access to content for the visually impaired.

Kolman, who is also Senior VP, Global Academic Relations and Publishers Relations at Elsevier, encouraged more publishers around the world to participate citing their own publishing experience in the context of implementing the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty, and affirmed that it was characterised by minimal investment and a close-to-none risk to revenue.

Setzer, on the other hand, encouraged peers in the publishing industry to collaborate with Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which has dedicated itself to increasing the number of books worldwide in accessible formats, such as braille, audio, e-text, large print, to further this cause. He emphasised IPA’s firm commitment to facilitating the uptake of the Marrakesh Treaty by more governments and its successful realisation by the publishing community worldwide.

In a bid to further the agenda of the ‘Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled’ or simply Marrakesh Treaty, which was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh in June 2013 as part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled, registered a historical success in September 2016, when 20 countries ratified the Marrakesh Treaty.