The World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights meets next week in Geneva where a hot topic may be a proposal from the World Blind Union for the creation of a new WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons. The treaty proposal builds on WIPO's commitment to examine limitations and exceptions by addressing an obvious need for reform. Full details on the treaty proposal can be found here.
The CNIB has written a letter to Canadian officials expressing its strong support for the treaty. It notes that an estimated ten percent of the Canadian population is prevented from reading standard print to due to a visual, perceptual or physical disability. While Canada has a copyright exception that addresses some of these concerns, the CNIB notes that a treaty would dramatically increase the number of works available in alternative formats to Canadians. The group is urging the Canadian delegation to support the treaty, though some sources say that Canada is resisting formal support by emphasizing voluntary measures (the same voluntary measures that have left Canadians with access to only five percent of published information in alternative formats). Rather than remaining silent in Geneva, Canada should be a leader on this issue by signaling its support for the treaty and urging other countries to do the same.