Resolution on Supporting the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for People Who are Blind, Visually Impaired and with Other Reading Disabilities

A resolution for MidWinter Seattle January 2013

2013 ALA Annual Conference

 

Resolution on Supporting the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for People Who are Blind, Visually Impaired and with Other Reading Disabilities

Whereas ALA Policy 54.3.2 states that “library materials must be accessible to all patrons

including people with disabilities”;

 

Whereas ALA Policy 50.15.1 (Principles for the Networked World) states that equitable access is a critical public policy of ALA;

 

Whereas ALA Council adopted the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Digitization Workgroup’s values, through “Resolution on Principles for Digital Content,” stating that “equitable access to digital library materials is ensured through maximum accessibility, ubiquity, sustainability, and barrier-free access” (ALA Council Document 20.9, 2007);

 

Whereas ALA Policy 58.1 states that a major international relations policy objective must “encourage the exchange, dissemination, and access to information and the unrestricted flow of library materials in all formats throughout the world”;

 

Whereas ALA Policy 58.4.1 supports the principles of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, accessibility, and full and effective participation and inclusion in society proclaimed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR);

 

Whereas persons with visual impairments/print disabilities need access to published works in order to achieve equal opportunities in society;

 

Whereas the majority of persons with visual impairments/print disabilities live in developing and least-developed countries;

 

Whereas the World Blind Union (WBU) has determined that only 7 percent of published books in accessible formats like Braille, audio and large print are available in the richest countries, and less than 1 percent in poorer ones, labeling the situation a “book famine”;

 

Whereas rights holders have not developed a viable market for accessible books that suggests that a copyright exception is warranted;

 

Whereas two-thirds of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member nations have no copyright exception allowing for the production of accessible copies for people with print disabilities in their national laws and cross-border sharing of accessible content is not permitted under international law;

 

 

Whereas despite the differences in national copyright laws, the positive impact of new information and communication technologies on the lives of persons with visual impairments/print disabilities may be reinforced by an enhanced legal framework at the international level;

 

Whereas the WIPO International Instrument/Treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Visually

Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disabilities would allow authorized entities to make accessible copies of books in all signatory countries;

 

Whereas the treaty would make it legal to send accessible books across national borders, making more books available for the print-disabled; and

 

Whereas WIPO nations may hold a diplomatic conference to finalize the treaty text; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA):

  1. recognizes the support of the Obama Administration’s commitment to access to information for all people;
  2. commends the United States delegation to WIPO for their recognition of libraries as critical providers of accessible content; and

3.      supports the passage of the WIPO International Instrument/Treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Visually Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disabilities.

 

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