September 26, 2019
Hachette Livre is the 100th signatory of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) Charter, marking an important milestone for the WIPO-sponsored alliance working to increase the number of books in accessible formats for use by hundreds of millions of people around the globe who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.
By signing ABC’s Charter for Accessible Publishing, Hachette Livre, which is among the world’s largest publishers, is committing to making its products fully accessible to all users.
ABC promotes the on-the-ground implementation of WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty, which allows for the production and international transfer of specially adapted books for people living with blindness or visual impairments.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the development, saying: “We are pleased to see a growing number of key industry players signing the Charter for Accessible Publishing. This advances our global efforts to increase the number of books available for use by people with print disabilities.” He added: “Hachette Livre is a world-leading publisher and its membership will make a big difference in making accessible format books available to blind and visually impaired persons.”
Hachette Livre Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Nourry said “For the book industry, making books accessible to the widest readership, including readers who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled, not only makes economic sense, but is a moral imperative. If we, publishers, do not pioneer this duty on an industrial level, who will?”
The Charter contains eight high-level principles relating to the production of digital publications in accessible formats, including the promotion of the adoption of accessibility standards throughout the supply chain, testing digital publications for accessibility and incorporating appropriate feature descriptions and metadata.
Last year, Hachette Livre won the 2018 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing in the publisher category. Hachette Livre was commended by the selection jury for its implementation of “born accessible” production processes in the EPUB3 format in France and for its implementation of mandatory accessibility conformance testing for all of its trade publications through the use of the recently created “Accessibility Checker for EPUB” known as Ace. When its accessibility features are used correctly, EPUB3 is the gold standard in the publishing industry for the production of accessible digital books.
About the Accessible Books Consortium
The Accessible Books Consortium is a public –private partnership led by WIPO that brings together all of the key players – non-governmental organizations representing people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled, authors, publishers, collective management organizations, libraries and other authorized entities, as well as standards bodies. ABC was established after the 2013 adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty, which now has 58 contracting parties covering 85 countries, since the European Union ratified the treaty as one bloc.
ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print – and to make them available to people who are print disabled. It carries out activities in three areas to fulfill its mandate, namely:
- Accessible Publishing – activities to promote accessible book production techniques within the commercial publishing industry so that e-books are usable by both sighted people and those with print disabilities. Six national publishing associations have endorsed the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing. The first ABC accessibility excellence award in the publisher category was presented at the London Book Fair in April 2015 to Cambridge University Press.
- ABC Global Book Service – a global library catalogue of books in accessible formats that enables libraries serving the print disabled to share items in their collections, rather than duplicating the costs of converting them to accessible formats. Currently, 61 organizations have joined the Service and the catalogue comprises over 540,000 accessible titles in 76 languages.
- Capacity Building – training in developing countries is provided to local NGOs and publishers who want to produce and distribute their books in accessible formats.
The global context
Some 253 million people worldwide are visually impaired, according to the World Health Organization’s 2017 estimates. More than 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union (WBU) estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. The lack of accessible books is a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life. The WBU estimates that less than 10% of all published materials can be read by blind or low vision people.
About Hachette Livre
Hachette Livre, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lagardère SCA, is the third-largest trade and educational publishing group in the world, with sales of €2,252 million in 2018. It is # 1 in France, # 2 in the UK, # 3 in Spain and # 4 in the USA. It publishes around 17,000 new titles a year under more than one hundred different imprints in a dozen languages, but mainly in French, English and Spanish. It covers all segments of trade publishing: general fiction and non-fiction, mass market pocket books, books for young readers, illustrated books, travel guides, school books and study guides, as well as partworks. Its headquarters are in Vanves, France.
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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 192 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.
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