Canadian and US Academic Libraries Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Working Together to Facilitate Access for the Print Disabled
The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled was adopted on June 27, 2013, in Marrakesh and is part of a body of international copyright treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The treaty came into force on September 30, 2016.
The Marrakesh Treaty is the first user-focused treaty adopted by WIPO to address the global accessible-book famine. The treaty requires participating countries to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution, and making available of published works in accessible formats through limitations and exceptions to the rights of copyright holders. Canada and the United States are two of the now 80 participating countries.
To support this initiative and realize its potential for beneficiary communities, in 2020, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) formed a Joint Task Force on Marrakesh Treaty Implementation, bringing together the academic and research library community in Canada and the United States to work towards universal access to the 760 million books they collectively hold across member libraries.
The task force is exploring ways that libraries can provide beneficiaries with seamless search and access to accessible formats, reducing barriers currently faced by people with print disabilities. The pilot project has uncovered libraries working in an intricate web to deliver optimal systems functionality, descriptions of works, metadata standards, and user-authentication methods. Practices not only need to be agreed to by participating institutions, some will require international standards adoption.
“I’m proud that we are building on our past success and leadership in advancing library accessibility by participating in this initiative,” said Joy Kirchner, dean of libraries at York University. “Every member of our community deserves access to the tools, resources, and expertise they need for a successful teaching and learning experience, and initiatives like this one demonstrate our commitment to ensuring users are supported to create positive change.”
In collaboration with York University and the University of Florida, the task force is working to implement the first cross-border exchange by early 2023.
“The University of Florida Libraries offer accessibility services in partnership with the campus Disability Resource Center,” said Judy Russell, dean of university libraries at the University of Florida. “The systems and policies we develop through this pilot initiative to lend accessible materials to our partners at York University will strengthen those services and help develop a stronger international network.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.