Chile recently became the seventeenth country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Faciltiate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. Countries from nearly every region have ratified the treaty including: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, India, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, North Korea, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. The Marrakesh Treaty requires twenty ratifications before it enters into force and only three more countries are needed.
The Marrakesh Treaty sets forth minimum standards for limitations and exceptions to facilitate access to accessible format works. It would also permit cross-border sharing of these accessible formats, allowing countries to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and resources in the creation of these accessible works. Additionally, the Treaty would facilitate importation of works created in other languages.
With Chile’s ratification, eight countries in Latin America have now joined and will be able to share their accessible formats across borders. Argentina has a relatively large collection of accessible formats available through TifloLibros which will benefit those in other Spanish speaking countries. Should the United States ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, these ratifications in Latin American countries will be of great benefit to those who are print disabled in the United States that speak Spanish. According to a 2015 study based on US census data, the United States has more Spanish speakers than Spain; only Mexico has a larger Spanish speaking population.
Of course, ratification would not only benefit those in the United States (such as those requiring accessible formats in Spanish), but also individuals with print disabilities in other countries who could import books from the relatively large collections of accessible formats in the United States.
While the Obama Administration sent the Marrakesh Treaty to the U.S. Senate in February of this year, it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing or vote. Earlier this year, Canada tabled Bill C-11 to prepare for implementation and accession to the Marrakesh Treaty though it also has not yet come up for a vote.