Joining the Marrakesh Treaty will give easier and quicker access to information for Kiwis who are blind, low vision and those with print disabilities.

It has been a long time coming. First New Zealand had to amend its copyright laws so they were aligned with the treaty, and finally on 3 October 2019, New Zealand become the 60th contracting party to join the treaty. It now covers 87 countries.

Watch Geraldine Lewis, Blind & Low Vision NZ Library Manager, explain what joining the treaty means for our community:

Countries who have entered into the treaty can more readily share accessible books or resources, instead of often starting from scratch or waiting for permission to reproduce an accessible copy that has already been produced elsewhere.

“Lack of access to public information is the single biggest barrier to employment, education and effective participation in society [for people who are blind or have low vision],” says Blind & Low Vision Library Manager Geraldine Lewis.

“Joining the Marrakesh Treaty means that thousands of accessible books will become available to blind and print disabled New Zealanders.”

For the copyright amendment act and the Marrakesh Treaty to take effect, there will be a three month wait period until 3 January 2020. The Accessible Books Consortium then needs to update the permissions from ‘pending’ to ‘granted’ and that’s when our library staff will get stuck in to cataloguing the books and resources into our collection.

Geraldine says it’s quite a process, but one she is excited about.

“We want everyone to have access to information, so for us, it’s a great day and what it means is that in the future, when we want to request a book that’s done accessibly from countries within the treaty from the Accessible Books Consortium, we will automatically be granted the permission, so it will simplify and speed up the process.”

Geraldine says it’s been a large effort from many different organisations to advocate for New Zealand to join the treaty, and one person in particular she would like to thank is our former colleague Neil Jarvis who was instrumental in making it happen.

It’s a milestone moment for Blind & Low Vision NZ which will open up access to information for about 168,000 Kiwis with a print disability.

If you’re a client of Blind & Low Vision NZ, you could join our library and get access to our full library catalogue. Find out more by phoning 0800 24 33 33 or emailing info@blindlowvision.org.nz