Centre for Internet & Society

This article throws light on the fact that even though technology has made it possible for visually challenged to access print material, there is little awareness among authors and publishers to make it accessible, and hence, only an amendment in copyright laws can bring about this awareness.

Technology has made it possible for the visually challenged to access the print. But there is little awareness among publishers and authors about the need to make printed documents accessible to all. An amendment in copyright laws is needed to bring about this awareness.

To make it happen, the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) has urged authors and publishers to support the global Right to Read [RTR] campaign initiated by the World Blind Union and Sight Savers International among others.

“The proposed amendments to the Indian Copyright Act are yet to be tabled in Parliament. But it is not just the law that needs to change,” said Dr Sam Taraporevala, XRCVC director. “There needs to be a quantum leap in the mindset, where people are thinking of accessibility across diverse dimensions.”

The XRCVC has urged authors and publishers to sign the RTR declaration. Technology can convert print into audio, larger print or Braille. But very little content has been converted into formats accessible to the print impaired.
The RTR campaign seeks to bring about changes to copyright laws, increase public awareness on the issue of access to reading for the print-impaired, and gather support for the treaty for the blind proposed by the WBU at the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The XRCVC feels that amendments to the Indian Copyright Act should take interests of all stake holders into consideration. “A coordinated effort is required by all the stake holders, like the government, the copyright owners, persons with print impairment and organisations representing them, and the public,” Taraporevala said. “Signing the declaration does not involve handing over rights but indicates a statement of intent in support for the cause.”

For link to the original story on DNA.

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