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Better access to books for blind people on World Braille Day

blind person reading braille

“Today is World Braille Day and I am delighted to announce that an international treaty giving blind and low vision New Zealanders access to books and literary works comes into force today,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today. 

“Today the Marrakesh Treaty and the associated amendments to the Copyright Act 1994, passed by Parliament last year, come into effect,” Carmel Sepuloni said. 

“The treaty means disabled people can have greater participation in public life. 

It will benefit disabled students at all levels of their education, professions, and those who just enjoy reading,” Carmel Sepuloni said. 

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, says that prior to the Marrakesh Treaty blind and low vision people have had access to less than five percent of the total quantity of information available in print. 

“The Marrakesh Treaty means an end to a ‘book famine’ experienced by many of New Zealand’s blind citizens, as they will now be able to access an international virtual library through global collaboration,” Kris Faafoi said. 

“Organisations like the Blind and Low Vision NZ can access the braille translated or large print editions of books of similar agencies in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, without infringing copyright legislation of sovereign nations. 

“Now approved organisations can check with each other and access material if it is already available,” Kris Faafoi said. 

Today also marks 210 years since the birth of Louis Braille. The French educator enabled millions of blind people to experience literacy through his system of raised dots that could be read through touch.

“Louis Braille dreamed of a world where blind people, through access to literacy and numeracy, could take their place in society. Implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty will greatly progress his aspiration of an inclusive society,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

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