MEP Franciso Sosa Wagner poses question about support for WIPO treaty for persons who are blind or have other disabilities

Francisco SOSA WAGNER, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Spain, has submitted a question to the European Commission on the WIPO negotiations for a treaty for persons who are blind or have other disabilities.

David Hammerstein has provided the following translation into English:

The European Union has ratified The UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities that commits the EU to guarantee the right to access to culture and reading material. sosa_460.jpgIn particular, Articles 21 and 30 of the Convention state that governments should take whatever legal measure necessary to provide more equal access to culture, education and reading material for persons with disabilities. At present only a very small fraction (between less than 1% and 5%) of published books are available in accesible digital formats for visually impaired and print-disabled persons in Europe, and far less in low income countries. This is despite the fact that state-of-the-art technology could provide much greater cross border access. To confront this problem of “book famine” the World Blind Union and the European Blind Union have proposed an international Treaty at the World Intellectual Property Organization to facilitate the cross-border movement of reading material in formats accessible for persons who are blind or have other disabilties. This initiative at WIPO has been opposed by the European Commission in contradiction with its legal obligations under the Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities. The EC´s alternative to a legally binding solution are stakeholder agreements and a voluntary recommendation by WIPO that are deemed wholly insufficient by the European blind community.

Does the Commission consider the EU´s opposition to legally binding solutions for the lack of access to reading material for the print-disabled compatible with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?