Publishers value all readers, irrespective of how they access their works, and share the aspiration of those with visual impairments: full, simultaneous access to works on equal terms, and delivered in a sustainable way.
Traditionally, publishing has always been close to charities supporting visually impaired persons, in particular where they were producing Braille or other special format works that are particularly expensive to produce. Today, technological advances have dramatically improved the ability of those with visual impairment to access information. Improved technology, both in the area of VIP reader and accessibility software and in the continuing development of production software and product formats, is making more content accessible to visually impaired persons than ever before.
Formats that are accessible to visually impaired persons, in particular audio books and electronic formats are increasing popular and commercially successful.
Despite these advances, the current situation is far from ideal. Not all works use formats that are easily compatible with existing VIP access technology. The IPA supports projects which make electronic works available to visually impaired persons, and welcomes cooperation between organisations representing visually impaired persons and rightsholders, collective licensing organisations, libraries and other institutions.
Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)
The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats, such as braille, audio and large print, and make them available to visually impaired people.
The International Publishers Association (IPA) is a founding member of ABC and is committed to realizing a world where content is accessible to all persons with print disabilities.
Publishers have embraced the shift towards digital content, however this content is not always automatically accessible to millions of readers who have a visual impairment. Accessible publishing ensures that accessibility is a natural part of the production process resulting in content that is ‘born accessible’.
The ABC Publishers Charter
The IPA recognizes the opportunity that born accessible production presents for publishers and acknowledges that it is critical if we are to ensure that everyone in our society has equal access to important information. Therefore, the IPA is calling on all publishers to act today and sign up to the ABC’s Charter for Accessible Publishing.
The ABC complements the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Treaty compels WIPO member states to establish a copyright exception for visually impaired people, while allowing cross-border sharing of books in accessible formats.
The IPA co-established the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Blind Union (WBU), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and many other international stakeholders.
How to start accessible publishing
- A starter kit for accessible publishing in developing and least developed countries (PDF)
- Accessible Publishing Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers
- IPA Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty
- Other tools and online training are available from the ABC website