Hello and welcome to May. This month I had the pleasure of presenting at the 2017 Round Table Conference on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities. This enlightening event has underlined the importance of collaborating with both creators and readers to ensure our books are accessible to all.

The Copyright, Publishers and Libraries session I participated in was robust and upbeat and Jessica Coates from Australian Digital Alliance gave a very detailed and enthusiastic overview of the changes to Australian copyright law, which should be passed this week. The 2017 Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill came out of the Marrakesh Treaty – the first global copyright treaty to focus on user rights, rather than rights holders.

More than 150 Fremantle Press titles have been available for many years in a range of formats for people with print disabilities, through Vision Australia, Read How You Want, Bolinda and VisAbility.

What is important to us in these arrangements is that copyright ownership is protected and authors receive royalties for any commercial sales of these books.

But for non-commercial Braille and audio productions, we heed our statutory obligations and make files available for free and without obligation of payment. The current demand for audio books in the general trade market can only be good news for people with print disabilities. They will gain access to a much wider selection of books and in more appropriate formats than ever before because these commercial ebook companies are now contractually obliged to make our files available for free to the print disability sector.

We need to be aware of and respond to the specific needs of organisations that create products for people with print disabilities. Discussion confirmed that more needs to be done to ‘join the dots’ and to ensure  publishers are confident in providing digital files to organisations whose expertise is in the production of print disability formats. It’s important that these organisations are able to communicate their particular needs so that files from publishers are more efficiently formatted (for example the new ePub3 is desirable). Talking with many people afterwards, we had no doubt about the benefits to be gained by improving communication between publishers and print disability organisations.

In the meantime, look out for more from the Marrakesh Forum over the next 12 months (and follow this on the Australian Publishers Association website).

To all the mums – happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your Mother’s Day reading – in whatever format that is.


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