By Palma Ileye
Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, has called on Publishers, State Governments and other Stakeholders in the book industry to ensure that books and educational materials produced or procured with taxpayers’ money were made available in accessible formats for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and print disabled persons.
The Director-General of NCC, Dr. John O. Asein made the call while delivering a goodwill message at a Workshop organized by the Commission, in collaboration with the Nigeria Association of the Blind, NAB, on 4th October 2023, to mark Nigeria’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.
According to NCC’s statement, the treaty, which was concluded in 2013 was ratified by Nigeria on 4th October 2017 and domesticated in the Copyright Act, 2022.
Speaking on the need to promote quality education through accessible publishing, Asein restated the Federal Government’s commitment to harnessing the country’s knowledge capital and abundant talents to grow the creative economy.
In his words, “it is important that we continually find ways to ensure that the copyright system helps all Nigerians, irrespective of disabilities, to realise their full potentials.”
He remarked that the domestication of the Marrakesh Treaty under the Copyright Act would promote access, push back the book famine in Nigeria and ensure quality education for a large section of the society who live with print disability.
He therefore called on agencies in the knowledge ecosystem to encourage inclusive publishing and ensure that more books were available, particularly for blind, visually impaired and print disabled children.
Restating the commitment of the Commission to the full implementation of Nigeria’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty, the Director General assured that the Nigeria Accessibility Day would henceforth be celebrated annually to promote inclusivity and accessibility for the benefit of visually impaired and print disabled persons.
In his goodwill message, the Head of Google’s Accessibility and Disability Inclusion, EMEA, Mr. Christopher Patnoe commended Nigeria for domesticating the Marrakesh Treaty and spoke on Google’s efforts to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful, using technology.
The workshop had Dr. Ifeolu Akintunde, CEO, IOA Consults Ltd. UK speak on “Making Education Accessible to the Blind: The Place of Braille and Modern Learning Tools”; while Mr. Richard Ormes, CEO of Daisy Consortium, U.S.A. spoke on “Enhancing Education, Work and Recreation for the Blind and Visually Impaired through Accessible Publishing: A Win-Win Model.”
They both commended the Commission for instituting the Accessibility Day and providing an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by blind school children and other visually impaired persons in accessing learning materials.
They called on Government to encourage braille education and equip school libraries with books in accessible formats.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the National President of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, NAB, Mr. Stanley Oyebuchi thanked the NCC for not only domesticating the Marrakesh Treaty but also for the practical steps it has taken to ensure that its dividends impact on the lives of blind and visually impaired persons.
He also called on Government to give more attention to braille literacy in schools.
The workshop was supported by the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA); Babcock University Press; Evans Publishers; and Accessible Publishers (formerly Rasmed Publications).
The well attended workshop was moderated by a former President of NAB, Mr. David Okon.