TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Apr 27, 2015) – Industry Canada

Canada to become one of the first G7 countries to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, breaking down barriers for Canadians with disabilities

Canada has one of the top literacy rates in the developed world, but for some Canadians, this privilege also comes with certain limitations. Today, nearly 1 million Canadians live with a print disability such as blindness or partial sight, and some Canadians have mobility issues that prevent them from turning a page or pointing a cursor. For these Canadians, it can be especially difficult to obtain material such as textbooks or online resources in a format that is both accessible and easy to use. Canadians should not be denied opportunities to read and educate themselves simply because they are print disabled.

Today, Industry Minister James Moore, joined by representatives from the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) and the World Blind Union, announced that the Government of Canada will introduce new measures that expand access to materials in formats vital to those living with a print disability.

Canada will join the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Treaty will give Canadians with print disabilities more and improved access to material from around the world in a variety of languages. It will also increase opportunities to import and export accessible versions of print materials, while ensuring the continued protection of authors’ rights. These changes will help schools, libraries and charitable organizations that work with the visually impaired to reduce their costs.

Once the Marrakesh Treaty is in force, Canada will be one of the first G7 nations to fully implement it, giving Canadians greater opportunities to fully participate in society and the economy.

The Government will table the Treaty in the House of Commons on April 29, 2015.

Quick facts

  • Only 7 percent of published books are ever made available in an accessible format such as an audiobook or a Braille conversion.
  • When these measures come into force, Canadians with print disabilities will have access to 285,000 adapted works from 13 countries, in more than 55 languages.
  • According to Statistics Canada, 35 percent of visually impaired students discontinued their education because of their condition, and approximately one third of Canadians who are visually impaired are not in the labour force.
  • Canada’s current framework already makes exceptions for the print disabled, including new exceptions introduced as part of the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012. As part of that modernization effort, the Government specifically included amendments to facilitate the cross-border exchange of accessible format copies and the circumvention of technological protection measures (commonly known as digital locks) for the benefit of persons with print disabilities.
  • Economic Action Plan 2015 committed to acceding to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

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