The EU signs Treaty that enhances rights of blind and visually impaired people

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It is the right of everyone to fully participate in culture. Persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled continue to face many barriers in accessing books and other print material which are protected by copyright and related rights.

Adopted in 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty, which allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons, was a landmark move to enable visually impaired people to access books with the same ease as sighted readers.

During the January plenary session, the European Parliament adopted the long waited conclusion of the Marrakech Treaty and its integration into EU Law.

Whilst working as the shadow rapporteur in the Culture committee on behalf of the Socialists & Democrats’ group for this file, Julie consulted with a cross section of stakeholders: disability experts, NGOS working on disability issues and representatives from the author and publisher fields, who were largely in agreement with each other and stressed the importance of the speedy ratification of the Treaty in order to efficiently address the so-called “book famine” that visually impaired people face.

Europe’s non-discrimination law for people with disabilities is one of a string of EU actions that have brought tangible benefits for those who live with a disability in Europe including to those living in Britain.

Labour MEPs warned that Britain must remain a signatory of the Marrakesh Treaty if it leaves the EU. Unfortunately with Brexit, the disable communities will also lose a crucial platform to defend their rights.