IPA Blog

Changing of the guard on the board of the Accessible Books Consortium

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The term of IPA Past President, Dr Michiel Kolman, on the board of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) came to an end last month. The ABC is hosted by WIPO and is part of the practical implementation of the Marakesh Treaty. Michiel has been succeeded by Laura Brady of Canadian publisher, House of Anansi. I asked Michiel about his work on the ABC board and to Laura about her background in accessibility and her hopes for the future.

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Embracing accessible publishing

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Available in Portuguese, Turkish and Spanish.

For the last four years, as Vice-President and then President of the International Publishers Association, I promoted accessible publishing around the world, talking with key stakeholders of the book industry and addressing multiple audiences about the commitment of the IPA to this important matter. My main goal was to explain what accessible publishing is and what it means, to communicate its significance, and to convince publishers to go accessible by signing the Charter for Accessible Publishing of the Accessible Books Consortium. Being actively involved with the issue has made me passionate about it, and I am thrilled to be able to continue working to increase the number of accessible publications. I would like to thank the Chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, past president Michiel Kolman, for his invitation to coordinate our efforts in favour of accessibility.

I have come to believe that accessible publishing is something all publishers should and must embrace.

Publishers should embrace accessible publishing because of its moral significance. Books bring us joy, inspiration, and knowledge, and they make us think, imagine, and create. Books are magical, but sadly over 285 million Visually Impaired People (VIPs) worldwide1 have access to less than 10% of published works2. Imagine never having the opportunity to read everything that shaped you to be the person you are now. As publishers we have the moral obligation of allowing everybody to enter this magical world of books, including any person with a visual impairment.

I know many publishers may not see this as a priority. The threats to the core of our business, especially copyright infringement and threats to the freedom to publish, can already be overwhelming enough to worry about something for purely moral reasons. But that is the thing. Accessible publishing is not about charity. It is about doing the right thing, also in terms of our business models. This is why I also say we must embrace it. Accessible publishing is inherent to modern publishing, and I will show it through four compelling reasons.

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Two years of D&I Envoy: lots achieved, much more still to do towards an inclusive, equitable, sustainable world

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Two years ago Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in our industry. As the term of President Setzer is over my D&I envoy appointment also comes to an end but my work on this topic at IPA is not done. Time for a reflection on the last two years before I look at the future.

So, what has been achieved on the D&I front? First the IPA leadership itself. We certainly saw diversity there! The coming two years the IPA will be under the leadership of President Bodour Al Qasimi, finally a female president again, (too) many years after Ana Maria Cabanellas’ presidency, and the first president from the Middle East. Our new Vice President will be Karine Pansa, so strong female leadership at the top, and certainly ticking the gender diversity box. YS Chi was not long ago the first Asian IPA president and I, as far as I know, the first out president from the LGBTQ community. The IPA leadership diversity was explored well in the D&I panel for Publishers Without Borders with President Bodour Al Qasimi.

Diversity comes with many different lenses: gender, race & ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age, etc. Many of these lenses on diversity are well covered in the key surveys that track progress (or lack thereof) in diversity in our industry. The leading surveys in our industry are from the UK and the US and show progress on gender, with gender equality at the executive and senior level, but much more to do around race and ethnicity: in the Global North the publishing staff is very ‘white’, much more so than one would expect from the racially mixed cities where most leading publishers are located.  Gender in publishing has been supported enthusiastically by Bodour’s PublisHER movement.

Triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement, race and racism was high on the agenda at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair’s Diversity Panel, and also at the Beyond the Book Cast on Race and Ethnicity in Academic Publishing with a deep dive on Elsevier. A message of hope where all positive change starts with a meaningful dialogue and therefore lots of emphasis on courageous conversations around race and racism.

We have seen significant progress on LGBTQ rights around the world and that is also reflected on the sexuality lens on diversity. In the above mentioned publishing industry surveys we see that the LGBTQ community is well represented in publishing with many active Pride employee groups across the globe.

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SDG Book Club spreads to Indonesia

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Francyne Harrigan, the Director of the UN's Information Centre in Jakarta talks to us about how she brought the UN SDG Book Club initiative to Indonesia with a local twist.

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Taking concrete steps towards the SDG goals: how publishers can contribute.

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Rachel Martin interviews Sherri Aldis, Chief, United Nations Publications.

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New Portuguese language SDG Book Club launched

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As part of Global Goals Week, associations from the Brazilian and Portuguese book sectors came together to announce a new SDG Book Club that will launch in 2021.

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Notes from the road: to the Andes and back

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Between end of July and early September I had the chance of participating in several important events throughout Latin America. A region full of contrasts, where a wealthy, vigorous parts of society still coexists with undeserving levels of poverty. An assignment still to solve. Every country with a different, rich culture and traditions and enchanting people.

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Reading is for everyone: An Interview with Hugo Setzer on the importance of accessibility in the publishing industry

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On the topic of inclusion, we tend to focus on the areas of gender and sexual orientation. What does not receive as much attention is the area of accessibility. Simply put, having our products and services designed for people with disabilities speaks to the core of what publishers care about; the ability to reach and convey understanding to our target audiences. Accessibility is a key focus at the IPA, and the current IPA President, Hugo Setzer, is leading the call for publishers to support inclusive publishing practices. I caught up with Hugo to find out more; 

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 38) Day 5: The Final Hurrah

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Friday at SCCR 38 was for “other matters” – copyright in the digital environment, resale right and theatre directors. 

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Publishers are 100% behind the Marrakesh Treaty, IPA VP reminds Costa Rican meeting

Publishers are 100% behind the Marrakesh Treaty, IPA VP reminds Costa Rican meeting

This week I was in San José, Costa Rica, for a WIPO workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty (…to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities), and the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), on 13-15 June. 

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Copyright and the rights of disabled people

Occasionally, copyright and the rights of disabled people are framed as somehow incompatible—as though the former may preclude the latter—but to my mind these rights are definitely not mutually exclusive.

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