CNIB Commends Ratification of Marrakesh Treaty

On eve of Canada's 149 birthday, three million Canadians receive gift of improved access to literature

TORONTO, June 30, 2016 /CNW/ - CNIB congratulates the Government of Canada on today's eagerly-anticipated ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. Canada is the 20th country ratify the treaty, officially bringing it into force.

CNIB acknowledges the Canadian government's commitment to the Marrakesh Treaty and facilitating access to literature for three million Canadians with a print disability, including half a million Canadians with significant vision loss.

"Access to literature is a human right and until now a significant portion of our country's population only has access to seven per cent of all published material worldwide in formats they can read," says Diane Bergeron, Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement, "Today is a critical milestone for Canadians with vision loss and other print disabilities. Adopting the Marrakesh Treaty will provide greater access to published literature in alternate formats, providing equal access to all Canadians." 

"The government's commitment to ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty is a landmark victory for the people CNIB serve across the country," says John Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. "This will help remove barriers to education and employment opportunities - not to mention the simple joy of reading."

CNIB has worked closely with the Canadian government in supporting the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and recognizes the support and commitment from parliamentary champions, The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, as well as MP Rob Oliphant, MP Pierre Poilievre and MP Brian Masse.  

The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Marrakesh Treaty is designed to remove barriers to the access of alternate-format print materials through changes to domestic copyright laws on an international basis, while also facilitating the sharing of literary materials between nations.

A print disability is any learning (impairment relating to comprehension), physical (inability to hold/manipulate a book), or visual (severe or total impairment of sight) disability that prevents a person from reading conventional print. Accessible format literature includes audio books through the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY); electronic text (e-text); contracted, uncontracted and electronic braille; printbraille; and described movies.

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco. Canada joins 19 other nations in ratifying the treaty, including Australia, Brazil, Ecuador and Guatemala. 

About CNIB
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.


Image with caption: "Ministers Qualtrough and Bains took part in unlocking a chained pile of books representing unlocking access to literature for three million Canadians with print disabilities. (CNW Group/CNIB)". Image available at:

For further information: Amanda Lee, Communications Specialist, CNIB, (416) 486 2500 ext. 8345,


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