Intervention of the Holy See : WIPO Diplomatic Conference on a Treaty for the Blind | Knowledge Ecology International
In the Developed countries as well visually impaired individuals have access to only 5 percent of published books. Such a situation has been appropriately called a “book famine”. In fact, many visually impaired learners and university students in developing countries lack access to textbooks.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of all individuals to freely participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts (Art. 27).
Twenty or thirty years ago little could be done about the “book famine”. Printing braille books was time-consuming and resource-intensive. Technology has brought about important changes. Today visually impaired people can read books on computers using text-to-speech technology magnification, by means of so-called braille displays, or by listening to normal audio books. Now every book on the planet can quite easily be made accessible to blind users; instead of the 1% or 5% access of the past, today’s technical capacity allows close to 100%. Our goal, then, is not just a treaty, but rather a treaty that will resolve obstacles to access.
While new technologies make it possible to imagine a world where visually impaired persons can access a broad variety of documents just as sighted people can do, the out-of-date legal environment is a barrier. The protection of intellectual property is an important value, which we must respect. However, there is a social mortgage on all property, including intellectual property. The very creative and innovative thrust, that the intellectual property rights system offers, exists primarily to serve the common good of the human community.