New Zealand to join Marrakesh Treaty

  • Jacqui Dean
  • Nicky Wagner
Disability Issues Commerce and Consumer Affairs

The Government will join an international treaty to improve access to written materials for blind and visually impaired New Zealanders, Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean say.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled is an international framework that will enable the reproduction and distribution of books and other literary works in accessible formats.

“An estimated 90 per cent of all written materials worldwide are not published in accessible formats, such as braille, audio or large print.  For around 168,000 New Zealanders with a print disability, this is a barrier to participation in public life and restricts employment, educational and recreational opportunities,” Ms Wagner says.

“This treaty will make meaningful change to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders by ensuring they have access to a greater variety of books and other publications in accessible formats. It also supports the Government’s vision of creating a ‘non-disabling society’, as outlined in the New Zealand Disability Strategy.” 

Ms Dean says the Government will make other changes to further improve access to copyright works.

“These changes will allow more organisations and individuals to produce and provide accessible format works without breaching copyright laws.

“We now need to complete the Parliamentary treaty examination process and make the necessary legislative amendments to ensure New Zealanders with a print disability can benefit from the agreement as soon as possible,” Ms Dean says.

Ms Dean is also pleased to announce Cabinet’s decision to make the Blind and Low Vision Education Network (BLENNZ) a prescribed body under the Copyright Regulations. This will allow BLENNZ to better meet the educational needs of students with a print disability.

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