June 15, 2024

The SAR2R Coalition and affiliated member organisations called upon the NCOP and the National Assembly to enact the Copyright Bill and ratify the Marrakesh Treaty that facilitates access to published works in an accessible format for the blind, visually impaired and print disable persons.

The current Copyright Act does not provide exceptions and limitations for published works to be made accessible in different formats such as braille or audio for blind etc. For the blind, visually impaired and print disable persons.

NGO’s affiliated to the SAR2R Coalition have over decades produced accessible formatted materials from charitable and development funds. The member organisations in conjunction with the (WBU) World Blind Union and (AFUB) African Union of the Blind successfully negotiated with State Parties at (WIPO) World Intellectual Property and Related Rights Organisation for an International Treaty and in June 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty was adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Marrakesh Treaty is now in force with over 52 countries across the globe including 11 African countries that ratified the Treaty and 28 member countries from the European union (EU) to have automatic ratification. South Africa which led the disability rights movement internationally and the creation of the UN Convention on the Rights of |Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) and the African Protocol on Disability quite unfortunately has not ratified the Marrakesh Treaty as yet.

“The Marrakesh Treaty promotes the production by rights-holders of published works in an accessible format at the, same day and at the same price. It also provides for cross-border exchange and production for non-profit use by Authorised Entities, like NGO’s without copyright infringement should rights-holders not make available accessible formatted published works.

The provision of the Marrakesh Treaty is now incorporated in Section 19 D in the Copyright Bill, and is serving at the NCOP, and was approved by the National Assembly during November last year.

The enactment of the Copyright Bill and ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty will immediately provide over half a million accessible book titles to blind, visually impaired and print disable South Africans, thereby opening greater access to information and knowledge and has the potential to improve the economic, cultural and social well-being of this marginalised sector of our population whilst bringing the “book famine” to an end in our country.

More information may be available from Mr Jace Nair at ceo@blindsa.org.za

SA Right to Read Coalition (Established: 2009)
Member Organisations

• Blind SA • SA National Council for the Blind
• Daisy SA • SA Disability Alliance
• SA Library for the Blind • Tape Aids for the Blind
• SA Braille Authority

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