I write this post while returning home from a board meeting of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) and the celebration of the Marrakesh Treaty’s 10th anniversary at the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, in Geneva.
On 23 April, the world celebrates books, in the words of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), as "one of the most beautiful inventions for sharing ideas and embodying an effective instrument to fight poverty and build sustainable peace.”
Easter week, considered from Palm Sunday to Easter itself, is a national holiday in Mexico. Usually, a quiet time to rest and to reflect, however, this year it was rather uneasy, due to some shocking news: on Sunday, April 2, the former Dean of the University of Guadalajara, president of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, FIL, and dear friend of Mexican publishers, Raúl Padilla, passed away in his home.
Hugo Setzer, IPA Past President and head of the IPA's Accessibility Working Group spoke to Paul Gillijns and Sanne Walraven of the Dutch Educational Publishers and Dutch General Publishers Associations respectively about their 18 month programme to train publishers in accessibility ahead of the implementation of the European Accessibility Act in 2025.
We may indeed regard the Berne Convention as one of the great charters of literary liberty; it has directly and powerfully influenced all legislation touching copyright matters which has been achieved since it came into force.
John Murray, IPA President, 1899
For the last four years, as Vice-President and then President of the International Publishers Association, I promoted accessible publishing around the world, talking with key stakeholders of the book industry and addressing multiple audiences about the commitment of the IPA to this important matter. My main goal was to explain what accessible publishing is and what it means, to communicate its significance, and to convince publishers to go accessible by signing the Charter for Accessible Publishing of the Accessible Books Consortium. Being actively involved with the issue has made me passionate about it, and I am thrilled to be able to continue working to increase the number of accessible publications. I would like to thank the Chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, past president Michiel Kolman, for his invitation to coordinate our efforts in favour of accessibility.
I have come to believe that accessible publishing is something all publishers should and must embrace.
Publishers should embrace accessible publishing because of its moral significance. Books bring us joy, inspiration, and knowledge, and they make us think, imagine, and create. Books are magical, but sadly over 285 million Visually Impaired People (VIPs) worldwide1 have access to less than 10% of published works2. Imagine never having the opportunity to read everything that shaped you to be the person you are now. As publishers we have the moral obligation of allowing everybody to enter this magical world of books, including any person with a visual impairment.
I know many publishers may not see this as a priority. The threats to the core of our business, especially copyright infringement and threats to the freedom to publish, can already be overwhelming enough to worry about something for purely moral reasons. But that is the thing. Accessible publishing is not about charity. It is about doing the right thing, also in terms of our business models. This is why I also say we must embrace it. Accessible publishing is inherent to modern publishing, and I will show it through four compelling reasons.
“The big challenges of the twenty-first century will be global in nature. […] The whole of humankind now constitutes a single civilization, with all people sharing common challenges and opportunities.”
Yuval Noah Harari, in his book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”.
October and the first days of November were again very busy, with visits to four different countries and three book fairs in the course of three weeks.
Between end of July and early September I had the chance of participating in several important events throughout Latin America. A region full of contrasts, where a wealthy, vigorous parts of society still coexists with undeserving levels of poverty. An assignment still to solve. Every country with a different, rich culture and traditions and enchanting people.
What do Kenya, Germany and Korea have in common? There are all members of IPA, and during June I had the unique opportunity to make a two-week trip to all three of them.
Why should publishers care? A group of outstanding speakers tried to answer this question during the session I had the honour to chair on “Social Responsibility of Publishers”.
I recently had a chance to visit Dhaka to meet the IPA’s member there, the Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB).
Earlier this month I visited New Delhi for the first time, to discuss with our Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) colleagues the preparations for the 32nd IPA Congress, on 10-14 February, 2018.
This week I was in San José, Costa Rica, for a WIPO workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty (…to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities), and the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), on 13-15 June.