NCD Letter to House Judiciary Committee and House Leadership Regarding the Marrakesh Treaty

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September 17, 2018

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Paul D. Ryan
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
2421 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Steve Scalise
Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
2338 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: S.2559 - Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act

Dear Gentlemen:

I write on behalf of the National Council on Disability (“NCD”) - an independent, nonpartisan federal agency charged with providing advice to the President, Congress and federal agencies on matters affecting the lives of people with disabilities - to urge the Committee on the Judiciary to adopt, and the House to immediately pass S. 2559 - Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act - to increase the amount of accessible reading material for millions of Americans with print disabilities.

Currently, despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, audio, and digital copies, over 95 percent of published works are unavailable to people with print disabilities.[1] As a result, millions of Americans are prevented from accessing most information for education, employment, and personal enrichment. This is a situation that must be remedied and S.2559 is designed to do so.

On June 28, 2018, the Senate unanimously provided its advice and consent to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty). The Marrakesh Treaty is a multilateral agreement that provides a framework for Americans with print disabilities to receive accessible format materials from other countries. At the same time, the Senate passed S.2559 and referred the implementing legislation to the House. This legislation will adjust the United States copyright law to fully conform to the terms of the Marrakesh Treaty.

NCD fully supports the swift passage of S.2559. It will provide the opportunity for people with print disabilities to access a world of published works and will continue the legacy of the United States as the world’s leader in equal rights and inclusion for people with disabilities.

If you have any questions, please contact, Joan Durocher, General Counsel at jdurocher@ncd.gov or Ana Torres-Davis, Attorney-Advisor at atorresdavis@ncd.gov.

Respectfully,

Neil Romano
Chairman 

cc:   

Katy Talento, White House Domestic Policy
Jane Lucas, White House Legislative Affairs  




[1] World Blind Union, FAQ Sheets on UN and Human Rights Instruments, Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/resources/Pages/Global-Blindness-Facts.aspx last modified August 2017.