Feedback sought on better access to books for visually impaired

Disability Issues
Friday, October 30, 2015

Commerce Minister Paul Goldsmith today released a discussion document which seeks feedback on whether New Zealand should join an international treaty aimed at making more published material available for people with print disabilities.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled, was concluded in June 2013 and will come into effect once ratified by 20 countries.

“Agreeing to the Marrakesh Treaty would make a positive difference to the lives of almost 170,000 New Zealanders with a print disability,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“It would make it much easier for people to access, distribute and share a wider variety of copyrighted works in formats such as Braille, large print or audio books.”

Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner said the release of the discussion document was a good opportunity for people with print disabilities to have their say.

“Making more print content accessible would allow people with a print disability to access and enjoy books that other people take for granted.

“It would make a crucial difference to many people’s ability to communicate and participate in their community. I am pleased to see this important issue being discussed,” Ms Wagner says.


Currently less than 10 per cent of copyright works are available to people with a print disability in formats that are accessible for their particular needs.

The discussion document asks whether joining the Marrakesh Treaty would improve access to works and considers what changes to the Copyright Act would be needed.

“Although our law already includes a copyright exception for creating accessible format copies, it does not facilitate cross border exchange. This results in costly duplication of efforts to convert works that would otherwise be easy and inexpensive to import,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“The Marrakesh Treaty will remove this barrier leading to faster access to a greater variety of accessible format copies for New Zealanders with a print disability. It will also mean more efficient use of resources by schools, libraries and charitable organisations that serve people with print disabilities.

“New Zealand’s intellectual property regime should cater for the needs of the visually impaired and this is an important step toward this goal,” says Mr Goldsmith.

Submissions close on 26 February 2016. 

For more information and to read the discussion document go to: