Maiden Accessibility Day: NCC Sues For Inclusive Publishing

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Publishers, state governments and other stakeholders in the book industry were on Wednesday urged to ensure that books and educational materials produced or procured with taxpayers’ money are made available in accessible formats for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and print disabled persons.

Dr. John O. Asein, Director-General of NCC, made the call while delivering a goodwill message at a Workshop organised by the Commission, in collaboration with the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) on October 4, 2023, to mark Nigeria’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. The treaty, concluded in 2013, was ratified by Nigeria on October 4, 2017 and domesticated in the Copyright Act, 2022.

The NCC Director-General who also restated the Commission’s commitment to the full implementation of Nigeria’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty, 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.

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.

Said he: “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”.

The NCC boss 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 that 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.

In his goodwill message, Mr. Christopher Patnoe, Head of Google’s Accessibility and Disability Inclusion (EMEA, 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 Onyebuchi thanked the NCC for not only domesticating the Marrakesh Treaty but also for the practical steps it had taken to ensure that its dividends impacted 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 Mr. David Okon, a former President of NAB.

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