Hanoi, October 29, 2019 – Today, in Hanoi, the Vietnam Blind Association in partnership with UNDP organize the international workshop on “Developing Advocacy Roadmap for the Marrakesh Treaty in Vietnam”.
According to a report by the World Health Organization, there are about 1 billion people with disbality in the world; in which more than 80% of people with disability living in developing countries. However, it is estimated that less than 1% and 10% of published books in developing and developed countries, respectively, are ever made into formats accessible for persons with print disabilities such as Braille, large print or audio. Print disability can be caused by visual disabilities such as blindness and poor vision, developmental and learning disabilities such as dyslexia and autism, or physical disabilities such as Parkinson’s disease and paralysis.
Lack of equitable, timely and affordable access to published works in accessible formats such as braille, audio, e-books or materials with large print, referred to as a “book famine”. The “book famine” prevents millions of persons with print disabilities around the world from making the most of human development potentials and opportunities. The book famine can exclude persons with print disabilities from access to education, employment, health care, culture, or participation in just about any aspect of political, economic and social activities. All these factors contribute to extremely high rates of poverty among persons with disabilities – it is estimated that more than 80 percent of persons with disabilities live in poverty.
In June 2013, member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN agency, came together to adopt the Marrakesh Treaty, with the goal of removing copyright obstacles. The Marrakesh Treaty entered into force on 30 September 2016. As of October 2019, there are 61 Contracting Parties to the Treaty, covering 88 countries. The Marrakesh Treaty makes it legal and easier to produce and share accessible format copies both within and between countries for the use by persons with print disabilities, while striking the right balance between the protection of the rights of authors and the protection of public interests.
While Viet Nam is a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which it ratified in 2015, the country has not yet become a Contracting Party to the Marrakesh Treaty. According to the latest Census (conducted in 2019), 7.09% of the population aged 2 years and above live with disability, accounting for 6.2 million people. Within this population, vision disabilities were found to be one of the most prevalent types of disability, with about 1.03 million people. Viet Nam’s population is ageing fast, which is likely to increase the number of the elderly with vision impairment and print disabilities. Besides, non-communicable diseases that could cause vision impairment and other print disabilities are rising at an alarming pace, including strokes (which can cause paralysis) and diabetes (which can cause blindness or impaired vision).
As a result, the improvement of accessible format of print materials has become an important requirement in Vietnam. As a State Party to the CRPD, Viet Nam is committed and obliged to create a disability-inclusive social environment. Improving accessibility for persons with disabilities, including with regards to information and knowledge, is an essential element for disability-inclusive societies and fulfilling the basic rights spelled out in the CRPD. Furthermore, improved access to knowledge could contribute to reducing the high poverty rate (19.6%) among the 74,430 members of the Viet Nam Blind Association, which is more than three times the national poverty rate at 5.8%.
The international workshop “Developing Advocacy Roadmap for the Marrakesh Treaty in Vietnam” is part of the component “Developing Advocacy Roadmap for the Marrakesh Treaty in Vietnam” under project “Innovation for inclusion”. This project is implemented by the Vietnam Blind Association in partnership with UNDP Vietnam. The objectives of the project include: i) to help Vietnam apply the principle “leave no one behind”, “empower the most vulnerable people”, and to achieve SDG 1, 4, 8, and 10; ii) to improve the consistency between Vietnam's Intellectual Property Law and international standards to increase access to information for all; iii) to develop a roadmap to accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in Vietnam.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Dao Thu Huong, Disability Rights Officer– Governance and Participation United Nations Development Programme, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Phone: +84 988 675 985 | Email: email@example.com; or
Ms. Tran Thi Hong Hai, Foreign Affairs Officer – Women and Children, Vietnam Blind Association, 139 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Phone: +84 977738687 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 World Bank (2016). World Development Report 2016.
 World Blind Union (2016). Millions of People are Denied Access to Books and Printed Materials - WBU Press Release for World Book and Copyright Day.
 Paragraph 23 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. https://www.un.org/pga/wp-content/ uploads/sites/3/2015/08/120815_outcome-document-of-Summit-for-adoption-of-the-post-2015-develop- ment-agenda.pdf
 http://www.wipo.int/ treaties/en/ip/marrakesh