Stevie Wonder called upon the 184 nation members of the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization on behalf of the millions of visually impaired people around the world who need access to audiobook information that they can’t read in electronic form. WIPO’s current legal framework makes it difficult and more costly for institutions for the blind in some countries to reproduce audiobooks and WIPO director of copyright and electronic commerce, Richard Owens, says this means higher prices and less accessabilily for the blind and partially blind in poorer countries.
Stevie teased the representatives by threatening “Please work it out. Or I’ll have to write a song about what you didn’t do.” The legendary singer and song writer, who has been blind since he was an infant, has enjoyed a long career. Some of you may be old enough to remember him as “Little Stevie.” Let’s hope that he was successful in touching the hearts of WIPO representatvies and impressing upon them the importance of finding solutions quickly.
The World Blind Union says that in developing countries less than one percent of published works are available in formats like Braille or audio and even in richer countries the total is less than 5 percent. We can do better than that.