Friday, 9 June, 2023

Call to publish books accessible to people with visual impairments

Support of journalists and others sought for implementing Marrakesh Treaty

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 22nd March, 2023 09:18:20 PM
  • Print news

Dhaka: Rights activists at a discussion stressed on taking necessary steps for publishing books which can easily be accessible to people with visual and print impairments.

They also sought the supports of journalists, writers and publishers for proper implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty.

They remarked while addressing an orientation meeting on ‘Marrakesh Treaty Accession and Way Forward with journalists, publishers and writers’ at Agargaon in the capital on Tuesday.       

Visually Impaired People’s Society (VIPS) supported by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) organized the event at Liberation War Museum.

Eminent educationist Dr. Muhammad Jafar Iqbal attended as the chief guest, while Daud Miah, Registrar of Copyrights, Bangladesh Copyright Office, attended as special guest.

Moderated by Jahangir Alam, General Secretary of VIPS,  Bhaskar Bhattcharya, National consultant, Accessibility at a2i programme, ICT Division, Jafor Raja Chowdhury, former Registrar, Copyrights, Bangladesh Copyright division, Nazrana Yeasmin Hira, programme coordinator of MJF, Supreme Court lawyer Musherraf Hossain Mazumder, Adviser of VIPS, also spoke.              

The event was told that every year, lakhs of books are published in the world. Of them, only 1-7% books are suitable for reading of 285 million people with visual impairment and print disabled. About 90% of these disabled people have limited source of income and they mainly live in the developing countries.

On June 27, 2013 member countries of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at a conference at Morocco city Marrakesh finalized the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate the reading of books for people with visual impairment and print impairment.

Stressing on the importance of the Treaty, Dr, Jafar Iqbal called on all concerned to come forward in this regard. 

Jahangir Alam said, the Treaty mentioned about such a copyright system, which would pave the way for making the printed books into an accessible system for visually impaired and print disabled. As per the Treaty, it is necessary to bring change in Bangladesh’s copyright law so that our copyright does not create any problem regarding making accessible books suitable for visually impaired people.      

Bangladesh on Sept 26, 2022 ratified the Treaty. By ratifying the treaty, Bangladesh became the 116th nation in the world to sign the agreement to improve the access to books and reading for the country's people with disabilities.

Musherraf Hossain Mazumder, who is visually impaired, said   there are over four lakhs visually impaired people in the country. It is possible to solve the problems regarding their reading if the government takes necessary steps by making the copyright law effective in line with the Treaty. If it is done, visually impaired people would be benefitted most.

Nazrana Yeasmin Hira underscored on raising awareness on the Marrakesh Treaty, saying that MJF worked with VIPS in the past and also support it in its all activities in the days to come.      

All the speakers said that the Treaty’s implementation would ensure the equal participation of all, including disabled people, in economic, social and cultural fields, and also help us to achieve Sustainable Development Goal-4 by 2030.