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IGF 2016 - Day 2 - Room 1 - OF17:  WIPO

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> MODERATOR: So folks, we are about to start.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Well, Scott, what I know is you have excellent knowledge of music, who mays what, recognizing thins.  I remember you recognizing songs and stuff.  So please start.  Oh, this is coming across on the transcript.  Okay.

So now everyone knows that Scott has excellent music knowledge.  So we'll start our panel.  Welcome, everyone, to the World Intellectual Property Organization open forum, as we have advertised and announced yesterday, our focus in this open forum is going to be accessibility, disabilities and particularly the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to benefit persons who are blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled.

We'll talk a little bit with our distinguished panelists about the process of adopting that treaty, the process of bringing it into force and now implementing it.  And our panel will last for about one hour.  We hope to have our presenters give us information for about half that time and then we are very eager to have a dialogue with the audience, including the remote audience.  So we would ask everyone to think about your questions.  We will also ask people to keep questions relatively brief, so that we have time to accommodate everyone who is interested.

So let me briefly introduce our panel, and then we will ‑‑ I will describe a little bit about what we have been doing at WIPO with regard to the Marrakesh Treaty and then we'll hear from our panelists.

So directly to my left is Manuel Guerra, the head of copyright for Mexico, of the INDAUTOR Agency which is in the Ministry of Culture.  And Manuel was actually involved in the entire process and was chairing the WIPO copyright committee when we were working on the Marrakesh Treaty.

Then next on my left, your right, is Nic Suzor from Queensland Technical University and he's a specialist, among other things in, accessibility questions and we'll bring some of that perspective.

Trish Hepworth will speak on behalf of the International Federation of Library Associations, IFLA, and bring the library perspective to this discussion.  Libraries are key entities within the Marrakesh Treaty, both because they were involved in its adoption and because they can act as authorized entities to provide services under the treaty.

Finally, we will conclude with Scott LaBarre, down at the other end of the table.  Scott is here representing the World Blind Union.  He was one of the key negotiators of the Marrakesh treat for the World Blind Union and keeping it realistic and how much work we still have left to do.

So with regard to the World Intellectual Property Organization, many of you probably already know that in 2013, the Member States of WIPO adopted the text of a new treaty, which is named the Marrakesh Treaty because the diplomatic conference to adopt it was held in Marrakesh, and the purpose of this treaty is to provide published materials, published copyright works in accessible formats, and to allow that to be done using exceptions and limitations to copyright.

Copyright gives exclusive rights to activities including, for example, copying or reproduction to creators or authors or rights holders, and in the case, for example, of books, both the authors and the publishers might have some of those rights.  The copyright system also allows for exceptions to these exclusive rights, particularly where there's an important public purpose.

In this case, what the treaty does is it adopts an international harmonized standard for having exceptions in copyright laws to allow the creation of accessible formats of published works without having to get permission from the author.  So that could be anything from providing a large print version, to a braille version, to an accessible digital version in a number of different formats that have evolved, including, for example, the epub standard.

The treaty also has what is perhaps an even more unique element which is it provides for exceptions to allow cross border transfer of accessible works created under exceptions.  Generally speaking in copyright law, copyright is territorial, within the national boundary, and so are limitations and exceptions.  If a work is created in one country, under an exception, usually it can not be exported because the exception only applies within national boundaries.

What the Marrakesh Treaty does, among other things, is provide for Member States to adopt exceptions in their national law, allowing this cross border transfer of these works without permission and also putting certain protections into place, so that it's clear that the beneficiaries named in the treaty, persons who are blind, visually impaired and print disabled persons are those who will receive those works.

We at WIPO, after the adoption of the treaty, have been working very hard with partners, including, for example, the World Blind Union and IFLA to help Member States who want to join the treaty, after a treaty text is adopted, Member States still have to go through a formal process of joining by ratifying or acceding and we needed 20 memberships in the treaty for the treaty to come into force and be effective, and so we were very happy this past fall, at our WIPO General Assemblies that we were able to announce that the Marrakesh Treaty had received the necessary number of 20 memberships so that the treaty would come into force and be effective with respect to the countries that have joined it.

Mexico, of course, is and was one of the early members of the treaty.

And so we are continuing that process, because the beneficiaries really only get benefits under this treaty in countries that join the treaty.  There may be a few small exceptions but in general, Member States need to join for the beneficiaries in their country to receive benefits under the treaty.  In addition, we are working on implementation because it's all very well to have a law that says that you can do this, but if there's no technical capacity or ability to create accessible format works or to transfer them across borders, which is generally speaking done in digital format, and then the treaty may not bring any real benefits.  What all of us want is real benefits for the treaty.

One way or doing this is through Accessible Books Consortium.  Scott is also on the board.  IFLA also has a representative on our board.  This is a multistakeholder, multiparty, public/private partnership that's working on bringing the Marrakesh Treaty into reality, through capacity building activities and particularly developing countries where we work with the blind and visually impaired persons themselves, to train them to create the works and to distribute them to other beneficiaries by working with publishers to try and make ‑‑ reach a goal of having books and works actually born accessible so we don't really need to use the treaty to create the accessible forms.  That would be everyone's ideal is that all works start out accessible.  We are a long way from that, but we work with publishers on that goal.

And then also, do a lot of general public education regarding the treaty and we have what is called the accessible ‑‑ no, the ABC book service, which exchanges books across borders.  Right now it's largely a catalog of accessible format books that are available from the member libraries.  There are about 17 or 18 now, and we are ‑‑ that will be increasing as more come on board.  But we hope that more and more books ‑‑ some books are already available through that library, that platform, and we're hoping that more and more become available as we no longer have to clear all the rights with publishers but are able to use the Marrakesh Treaty to transfer those accessible books across borders.

Finally, I will look that we are looking at accessibility more broadly at WIPO.  We are, for example, trying to make sure that our website is fully accessible.  There's a lot of work to do to make that happen.  We are committed to doing it, but somewhat to our surprise when we started working with consultants, we found this is going to be a multiyear process.  It's one we have underway and as we said, we are quite committed to that.

So that's enough about what we are doing at WIPO.  Let's turn to Manuel to hear about what is being done here in Mexico about the Marrakesh Treaty.

>> MANUEL GUERRA: Thank you.  Thank you so much, Michelle.  It's a pleasure to have you here in Mexico along with my colleagues on this panel.

And to compliment what Michele Woods has just told us with a pertinent level of detail, I would like to share with you that the Marrakesh Treaty is the first international treaty in terms of intellectual property rights.  So this is an international precedent.  The Marrakesh Treaty was in force as of September 30th of this year, by assembling the 20 initial member countries within the framework of the treaty.

Mexico had the ‑‑ is ranked ninth in terms of signing of this treaty.  And Mexico, the inclusion of individuals with visual disabilities is of national importance, and I would like also to share with you that this international treaty has involved a reform that is now part of our legislation in force with respect to copyrights.

Mexico is the first country that has implemented the legal reform necessary to include individuals with disabilities into its bylaws and regulations.  In Article 148, we have now incorporated the exception in respect to property right to include individuals with visual disabilities but individuals with different types of disables.  The Marrakesh Treaty specifically discusses individuals with visual disables but in the Mexican regulations, we have included different types of disabilities in this specific item of the law.

And also, Marrakesh legislation has set a precedent in the international context because it goes hand in hand with other international treaties that are particularly relevant.  For example, the convention on individuals with disables.  This U.N. Convention that was also a major ‑‑ was spearheading, this effort and it comes hand in hand with the Marrakesh Treaty where Mexico participated actively and in a very constructive manner, set by staff in the negotiations of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Another international agreement that co‑insides with the Marrakesh Treaty is Berne Convention, that states the overall regulations with respect to intellectual property rights.  Another instrument which is particularly relevant for Mexico is the general law for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.  This Mexican regulation is part of what is being done for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Another legal framework in Mexico is the law against discrimination, and Mexico has granted particular importance to this and to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the regulation issued between 2014 and 2017.  So this is what Mexico has done for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Now, what is important with respect to the Marrakesh Treaty, vis‑a‑vis individuals with disabilities, the Mexican constitution that is a constitution that is very formal in terms of the protection of human rights, what is aiming under the Marrakesh Treaty is to grant individuals with disabilities the right to have access to education and also to have access to culture and to grant them access to leisure activities and also grant them access to information and grant them freedom of expression, including freedom of disseminating their ideas and to provide them with opportunities to have access to employment.

Therefore the aim in Mexico, with respect to the Marrakesh Treaty is to give individuals with visual disables access to culture, to education, to employment, to leisure and, of course, to information in its entirety.

Let us remember that according to estimates of WHO, in the world, there are over 285 million people with visual disabilities, and 90% of them are locates in developing countries.  Therefore, the Marrakesh Treaty compliments the international framework and it also consolidates the national jurisdictional framework and is a world precedent for the implementation of international treaties and also, in my personal opinion, it's a great example to be followed.

Thank you.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Thank you.

(Applause).

>> MICHELE WOODS: Thank you so much, Manuel and thank you, setting the scene a bit more with the extent of the problem worldwide and particularly for developing countries.  I'm sure we'll talk more about that.  And now we'll turn to Nick.  Please, go ahead.

>> NICOLAS SUZOR: Thank you, it gives me great pleasure to be here on this panel with my distinguished panel.  I'm a professor of law at the Queensland Technical University.  I want to underline the significance of the Marrakesh Treaty.  We heard a little bit about the Convention On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is really a landmark shift in the way in which international obligations are imposed on nation states to ensure equal access to information and cultural goods amongst other things, equal participation in society.

This convention is a major change in the way that we need to think about all types of regulation, including intellectual property laws.  And for a long time, intellectual property laws have somewhat understated the interests of users, that the ‑‑ there are very few required exceptions to protect user rights in international agreements and it's been left to nation States to best determine how they protect the rights of users under international law ‑‑ under, I'm sorry, their own domestic law.

So the Marrakesh Treaty is fundamentally important because it reverses that onus.  It creates a positive obligation to create exceptions within the law, in order to enable access.  And that's amazing!  It's a really significant achievement.

The question I want to pose today really, I guess two questions.  We have a massive challenge ahead of us to make the world cultural and knowledge goods accessible.  Part of this requires solving the legal problems, the barriers to access posed by copyright.  The Marrakesh Treaty in its implementation around world is a big step towards doing that.

The next part of that problem is first to solve the problem of all of the books and other works that exist but are not available in accessible forms, be recorded history and culture of humankind.

The second challenge is then ensuring that we can solve this problem into the future.  And these are largely problems of coordination, goodwill, cooperation, and funding.

Solving the problem for the past requires ongoing massive commitments to digitization, archiving and preservation.  Now, there are many, many digital, digitalization efforts underway around the world, but particularly national governments have invested quite heavily in digitizing their stores of recorded culture and Trish will talk more about the role of libraries in that ongoing challenge.

But there's still a lot of work to do to actually make these collections accessible, and largely, I think this is a problem of money, that we can sometimes expect private industry to digitize collections things like the Google Books project, a really fantastic way.  I think they are up to 25, 30 million books digitized now today.  That combined with the efforts of national governments really means that we are making significant inroads on digitizing, and recorded culture.

The challenge still remains to make those digital copies accessible and that is still a costly procedure to be able to take to take a scaled book and create an open text version first, and then to create different formats of accessible versions from that open electronic text version.

That's the big challenge of addressing the past problem, the unaccessible archives of human knowledge.

Solving the problem for the future is where we have real opportunities today to think a little bit differently about the process through which we make things accessible.  The Accessible Books Consortium is an excellent example of how we will make sure that we are not in this position in ten years, that we can ensure that the way in which books are published right from the start, take into account the needs of people with disabilities and that's an important step that we need to embed into the workflow of publishers, the ability to make sure that the electronic versions of books that are made available, are made available in accessible form.

One of the specific initiatives that I want to speak about, is one that's particularly interesting, thinking a little bit creatively about how we might ensure greater levels of accessibility in the future.  An initiative that's come out of Australia and I would be keen to hear whether other nations have been thinking about this as well, is that perhaps there are ways we can find cheap methods and efficient methods of taking books that are published in ensuring they are made accessible.

One idea is to graft some accessible procedures on the legal deposit scheme.  So a legal deposit scheme is a mandatory requirement that any book published in a nation is lodged with a library of record.  Recently many countries have extended this from published physically published books to electronically published works, books and other materials as well.

And so over the last few years, many books have been flowing into national library archives around the world in electronic formats.  Now, unfortunately, in many cases, they are still flying in, in electronic formats and they are not quite accessible.  Much work still needs to be done to ‑‑ to take the text and ensure that it's properly formatted to spring readers and other devices and it's able to be converted to audio versions.  Sometimes that requires quite a heavy investment of human labor.  We still need in many cases humans to read books on to audio ‑‑ on to audio formats in order to create properly engaging works, that don't sound too wooden and easier to navigate.  We need proper bookmarks and other things in the electronic version so that the books are easy to navigate with accessible options.

So one of the ideas that we are looking at is developing national cooperation between publishers, between libraries, between groups who are serving the needs of people with disabilities, to make use of the books that are coming in for electronic deposit schemes, where those books are not otherwise available in main stream accessible digital formats to develop a cooperative scheme to ensure that we can solve this problem, the book famine into the future.

And so these are the ‑‑ these are the types of partnerships, both public and private, that I think must be taken here.  To go back to the convention, the convention imposes very strict obligations on states to ensure accessibility of knowledge and culture.  And in order to actually solve this, in a pragmatic way, we need to make sure that we develop the cooperative protocols between publishers and other institutions who are working here, to make sure that we have the workflows set up right, and part of that, coming back around, is making sure that we have commercial availability, and then when we don't have special availability, working with our publish institutions to make sure that they are resourced well enough to create the accessible versions where otherwise not available.

Thank you.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Great.

(Applause).

Thanks so much, Nick and it's really interesting to hear these ideas about practical ways that we can make sure accessibility is a reality.  Now let's turn to Trish to give us the library's perspective or a little bit of library's perspective in the time we have available on these questions.  Trish?

>> TRISH HEPWORTH:  Thank you, after that inspiring look into the future about the capacity of the libraries, as you can see, with any luck, we have already are firmly on a pathway with the resources and the cooperation to a much better situation.  The reality of the situation at the moment, of course is that fill less than 10% of published works are available to people with a vision impairment.  And there's just significant problems with people with other disabilities.

The library sector has been a very strong supporter of the Marrakesh Treaty.  We are involved into its negotiation and its final form, and we are very excited to be involved in its implementation.

It's quite interesting.  The library associations have really embraced this coming the Internet and its ability to increase the access to knowledge and the access to culture, and a lot of the times when the libraries are engaging in the copyright debate, what we are trying to do is make sure that these opportunities are harvested and we don't accidentally lose the rights that we had in the analog age.  We are talking about access that has never actually been a reality.

Clearly a lot of time people in the library sector have been working in this area.  Our section, the IFLA section of libraries serving people with disabilities has been incredibly active over a long number of years.  The copyright kept coming up as a recurring barrier.  And when copyright is saying primarily as a monopoly right, protecting rights holders then there's no incentive, there's no commercial incentive to make these things available.

The disability community is disproportionately in poverty, they are a reasonably small section of the mark and so we have never seen a commercial response to making these things available.  This was a situation which led to the book famine.

Libraries, as I said are about providing access to knowledge and culture and the Marrakesh Treaty does exactly the same thing.  Libraries are really excited to be working within the Marrakesh Treaty.  We will be authorized entities.  We are already heavily involved in cross border exchanges.  We are involved in the digitization efforts.  We will provide the raw materials.  We are involved in making the accessible copies and we are involved in the current situation that we face, which is one, making sure that we actually get all of the countries around the world to sign up and to ratify Marrakesh.  And the other one is making sure that we implement Marrakesh in an excellent way.

And I would like to give great credit to Mexico, who has done an excellent job on their Marrakesh implementation.  And one thing that we are particularly impressed about is the fact that it does extend to disabilities that aren't specifically covered by the Marrakesh Treaty.  IFLA was saddened that the circumstances around the creation of Marrakesh excluded a lot of people with disabilities.  The needs of somebody with a hearing impairment to subtitles are just as real as the needs of a person with a sight impairment to large print or braille or daisy format.

So we would encourage that wider range of disabilities to be included with any domestic ratification and implementation process.  A couple of other key points that we would hike to see in domestic implementation, we would like to make sure that countries don't include the time wasting obligation to conduct searches for commercial availability.

Realistically, it's never going to be 100% sure that you can exclude commercial availability, and the realistic situation is if there's a commercially available book available, it is cheaper to buy that book than do the conversion yourself.  We don't think that we should have supplementary remuneration of rights holders.  We are talking about public interest, institutions that are working on incredibly tight budgets that don't have enough money to do the things that they need to do at the moment.  So we think that those funds would be much better spent creating new accessible works.

We don't think there should be onerous record keeping obligations.  There's no evidence of piracy on any serious scale that comes from the accessible transcriptions.  And libraries, in particular, have a long standing code of conduct and a long history of sticking to the code of conduct and respecting copyright.

We also think that we need to not put too many onerous restrictive registration requirements on authorized entities.  The way that Marrakesh works with its cross border transactions, is that it's authorized entity to authorized entity.  So we need there to be as many authorized entities but we need the authorized entities to be available in as many places and as many languages and in as many formats as possible.

Marrakesh is a very good treaty.  And it points the way to approach ‑‑ to an approach of copyright that better reflects the balance between the rights of intellectual property, the rights to access and the rights of people with disabilities to access, knowledge, and culture.  The library sector is incredibly glad to contribute to making this a reality.  And to extend the principles behind this treaty to all people who would be otherwise excluded from the knowledge economy.

(Applause).

>> MICHELE WOODS: Thank you so much, Trish, and now let's turn to Scott.

>> SCOTT LaBARRE: Thank you very much, Michele.  And I want to thank my fellow panelists who have covered the waterfront pretty well.  It was my intention to speak less so I wouldn't have to say much.  However, I am a lawyer and regardless, I probably will say more than I should.  The problem is knowing where to start.  This treaty for those of us in the World Blind Union has always been much more than a copyright treaty.  And it's that way because what this treaty does is it tends a very strong global message that access to information for those who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled is a global priority.  This is critical, not because it's something nice that the world could do.  It is critical because of the lives people like me live.

And I want to, I guess, underscore this point.  It is a fact that in the United States, even though we have access to more accessible information than anywhere else, we only can access something less than 10% of published works.  Why is that a big deal?

Some people have basically said to me, so you don't get all the books you want, but it's much broader than that.  What it means is it's a lack of access to knowledge and a lack of access to knowledge means a lack of access to education and a lack of access to education translates that a lack of access to employment and without employment, you cannot achieve any level of prosperity, even though I live in the richest country in the world, in terms of accessing information in an accessible form, more than 70% of persons who are blind ‑‑ 70, 7‑0, are unemployed.  You may have heard that last week, unemployment in the United States reached a low of 4.6%, which means, of course, that over 95% of those who want to work are working.

Can you imagine over 70% of the blind who want to work can't?  And why is that?  It's directly linked to the lack of information.  And that is why 9 work we do through Marrakesh is critical.

Now, that's the best case scenario in the world.  Let's talk about the rest of the world.

In the 285 million people who are blind or visually impaired, as Manuel said, 90% live in developing countries.  In those countries, over 90% of those blind or otherwise print disabled children can't even go to school.  So if you can't even go to school because of the lack of access to information, you have no hope or prayer of ever getting employed.

So what this means is a highly disproportionate number of those of us who are blind and print disabled in the world are living in poverty.  This is a global crisis!  That's why we called it the book famine.

So when we work on these problems, I think it is critical to remember that we're talking much more about a human rights crisis than an intellectual copyright scheme.  I want to congratulate all of the stakeholders who have worked very hard in the Marrakesh process to come to consensus and get a treaty that is already changing lives.

But as Nick said, so much more needs to be done, in order to make Marrakesh's promise of access to information a reality.  The Accessible Books Consortium which Michele and others have spoke Ben is one good step in that direction.  And I can go into great detail about the programs of ABC.  ABC is just a little over two years old, but already over 100,000 people in the world have benefited from books that have come out of that process.

Now that Marrakesh is in force, we hope to that see number increase rapidly.  It is critical that we think about accessibility on the broader scale.  The more we can make information accessible in the beginning of the process, the better chance that information will get into the hands of people who are blind or otherwise print disabled.  That's why one of the goals, one of the major objectives of the Accessible Books Consortium is to work on inclusive publishing, having these books born accessible.

And critical to all of this, and this is how I guess I will wrap up this portion, is, of course, the Internet.  The internet provides the structure, the infrastructure, through which we can make the exchange of accessible books a reality, but let's also keep in mind that it is critical that we build accessibility into the Internet.

Yes, it is great that I can use software to get on the Internet, do my email, do some word processing, but a lot of the information that is out there in a digital form is inaccessible, because people have not thought about making it accessible, and this is critical, because the Internet is based on computer code.  Computer code is not inherently visual in any way.  It's just ones and zeros.  Bits and bites.  It's all about coding.  It's all about making the software compatible with the assistive technology that the blind and others use.  And there are standards for this.  And I can go into detail about that, but we need to make a priority of using those standards.

Let me just give you a real small example.  I wanted very much yesterday to work on the plane using the Internet.  I went through the process of signing up.  Until I got to the end of that process where I had to purchase the plan, and there was one little box that was not accessible to me.  And because of that one little box, where I had to put in some numbers, I couldn't buy the plan.

So many times even though we have the promise of accessibility, we are still shut out.  So those are the things I would take to begin with.  Thank you.

(Applause).

>> MICHELE WOODS: Thank you so much, Scott.  And thank you for bringing us back to the Internet.  Of course, we are here at the Internet Governance Forum.  So it's great to bring that perspective to this panel.

Now, we would like to open up to, as I said, brief questions.  We think there will probably be quite a few questions and we would like to make sure we accommodate everyone as much as possible in the time we have left.

And first, I'm just going to look and see whether we have any questions waiting from our remote participants.

Okay.  Not at the moment.  Great.  Well, we are glad to have people with us remotely.  So I do see a number of hands raised and we have helpers who are kindly going to give microphones.  Over here on the right, I think we have two questions.  Let's take both of them and then turn to the panelists to give some answers.

If could you please state your name and your affiliation briefly, and then give your question.  Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you.  David, and I'm a librarian.  I want to ask for the panelists how we can improve the libraries to be entities, alternative entities, because in the domestic implementation, we have great issues.  And we need education for librarians to know how to do it, and also we need it, but with the perspective for accessibility, and an access tool which is not just see the corporate and protection, but others.

And please, I want to ask you, especially to Michele Woods, give us a hand for exceptions and limitations for libraries, not just in the data, but also in the ‑‑ in the analog world.  Thank you very much.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Great.  And if we could pass the microphone up to the other questioner.

Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good morning.  I would like to thank the members of the panel and the assistants.  This is for Mr. Guerra.  With all due respect, you described many qualifiers in your remarks, inclusion, inclusion, you talked about more inclusion.

In my opinion, inclusion addresses two things.  You might be included in or you might be included for but what are you going to get in return?  Once you are in, once you are included, what are the tools tar provided to actually feel included if public schools, for example, in Mexico?

It is compulsory to enroll students with disabilities.  It doesn't matter your disability, and in Mexico we define them with individuals with different skills.  It t doesn't matter your skills and they are enrolled in a school where there is no possibility to communicate with anybody else, but they are included.

They are considered included.  And in a forum, with the Guadalajara University, I had a conversation with the president of the university and I expressed to him, to Mr. Tonatio, how sensible stakeholders under terms of understanding or to at least learn that there are individuals who will behave differently, because they cannot use one of our senses.  How should interact with them?  How should understand them?  And how are you going to train your staff, your clerical staff so that they can interact with those individuals with different skills, as we described individuals with disabilities in Mexico.

He said, I will consider that.  Unfortunately, two or three years after, in some of the prep ‑‑ in the high schools, sorry, the high school teachers are being trained in sign language.  And I want to highlight the case of deaf people.  Sign language was going to be a skill that would be paid higher if teachers would speak sign language.

And to be part of the government is very ‑‑ is very interesting that provide us with power.

We can do a lot for people, but we could do some for people and I would like to take advantage that I have the floor, if we are going to do something, it should not be restricted to an act, just saying to all individuals with different skills, should be given the opportunity to go to school.  No.  No.  That's restrictive.  Individuals with different skills must be included because they will find the right tools and the relevant stakeholders so they can be part of that setting.

It's not about being inclusive.  That's what I wanted to say and thank you very much for your attention and your time.

>> MICHELE WOODS: To the panel members to respond and then we'll come over to some questions over here on the other side.

So we had two questions, one that was more focused on libraries and one more focused on the situation and the education, specifically here in Mexico, but, of course, those concerns are much more universal.

Would Trish, you like to say something about the libraries point?

>> TRISH HEPWORTH:  Yes, thank you very much for both questions.  Absolutely, when you are looking at access, there are really two big ones.  One is having the stuff available to be accessed, and the other is having method to be able to access these things.  So we could produce, you know, 2 million accessible books in Spanish, for example, but if it turns out that half or three‑quarters of blind population in Spanish speaking countries don't have access to the Internet, then there's not much point.

So this is one of the areas that IFLA has been very heavily involved in and we are happy over the world to be involved in projected like the global connect to be able to bring Internet access and more important digital literacy skills.  But as David said, there's a huge resource problem still, and we need to be doing more to make sure that not just librarians, but as our second speaker was talking about, teachers and professors and all the other people the skills not just to be able to do their side of digital literacy but to be proactive champions for making this accessible, to be able to communicate with people and to be proactive in making sure that these programs are available.

I think that's probably the most important bit from us.

>> MICHELE WOODS: So Scott, it looks like you are about to add to that?

>> SCOTT LaBARRE: Sure.  A couple of things.  In terms of getting access to the information, even if you create the accessible information that is critical that you have the tools to access that information that are also accessible, your website, whatever, software or platform you are using.

The classic example is perhaps having some electronic books are accessible in and of themselves but on an inaccessible platform, like a certain kind of ereader.  That was a problem we had in the United States, where perhaps the book might be an accessible digital book but it was offered to patrons on an inaccessible Nook or some other device.

Being an authorized entity, there are resources out there.  The Accessible Books Consortium can talk to you about what some of the standards are, and where you can get information.  One the partners and one of the members on the board of the Accessible Books Consortium is the Daisy Form, which has a lot of information about how to create accessible books and to operate as an authorized entity.  The other authorized entities that are part of ABC, of course, can offer resources about how they do their job, and then finally, the WBU, the World Blind Union will be coming out soon with a guide on the implementation in Marrakesh, which in part talks about the activities of authorized entities.  And there will be other sources as well.  WIPO continues to work on this, and I know that the publishers are as well.

>> MICHELE WOODS: So Manuel, would you like to respond to the second question?

>> MANUEL GUERRA: Thank you very much, Michele.

We have an excellent proposal as we all just heard.  I would like to begin with this premise.  We have an act.  There's an act over the enacted, and that is a positive thing.  And we have an international role model which is Marrakesh Treaty.  I believe that this is a major benchmark to address a major problem and it also represents a great challenge.

In my opinion, to include it is not only to make it available when we are participating in the negotiation phase of the Marrakesh Treaty, I learned that we had to provide an equal footing to individuals with disabilities.

They must have the same opportunities as I do, to have access to a print text or a digital print in our case.

But we must have the same opportunities.  That is what matters.  That is what we have to all contribute to.

But this happens out of our human nature.  We have to be very sensitive when we interact with an individual with disabilities.  That is what we have to feel as human beings.  We need to identify that there is an individual with disabilities and they must have the same opportunities as we do even when I am not a disabled individual.  That is why this is an issue related to sensitivity.  This is where the laws, the acts, the constitutions and the international treaties make this happen.  And I want to highlight individuals with disabilities because this is the term that the international arena is used to describe disabled individuals because they are individuals first and then we can describe their disability.  And this is a term that it's used in international treaties.  That's I didn't use it.

And believe me, as a public servant, I will do whatever it takes but specifically, as a human being, I will do whatever it takes to help provide the same opportunities to individuals with disabilities than any other.  I will do it as a public servant and I will do it as a human being, and I will be sensitive enough and share it with everybody around me.  And that is a fact.

>> MICHELE WOODS: We had two questions over here on the left, on my left.  The lady in the red blouse and then the gentleman in the second row on this side.  So if we can take those two, and then have the panelists comment again.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you.  My name is Helen Rivera.  The University of Guadalajara and IFLA.  I'm thinking ahead and I don't know if you can answer this, because maybe it's not the purpose of this meeting, but as a librarian, I'm thinking what can this forum can do to put some pressure in the job market?  Because one thing is to give accessibility to all this information through the different equipment, you know, and for people with some kind of disable, but what happens when they go out to the job market?  Not all business are sensitive and I agree with Manuel Guerra, they are lacking the human sensibility.  They are not given the equal opportunities to people that have ‑‑ you know, they are blind.  They don't hear well.  These businesses don't have the equipment.  I had the opportunity to work for Chicago Public Library, and one of the ‑‑ and I think Mexico has the legislation that says that a certain percentage of the workers, you know, can be working in any kind of business, but they don't have the equipment.  They are lacking the sensitivity to incorporate people with this kind of disabilities.

What kind of pressure we can do, you know, as the Internet Governance Forum, or with which agency to make these businesses respond in a more humane way.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm Bobby Bedi, I'm a filmmaker and I design experiences for all senses.  So I have a question of Scott and perhaps to anybody else on the panel.  Today the technologies like Siri and Alexa and other voice recognition technologies, so is there an effort to sort of combine this side of technology, the Internet and wide variety of content that there is, to create specific products for the visually impaired.  It seems like it's a natural thing to do.

>> SCOTT LaBARRE: Michele, do you want me to?

>> MICHELE WOODS: Sure.

>> SCOTT LaBARRE: I guess I would like to respond to both questions.  First, with respect to the employment issue.  Right, you are correct, it's not directly related to what we have been talking about here, however, it is a result of the lack of information, and what I this a forum like this could do, one call upon all the companies and the entities involved, all the libraries, all the private entities and all the governments to actively adopt a diversity plan that includes people with disabilities and targets goals of hiring them and make an active effort to recruit them.  All right.

And that can be done in many different ways through private and public partnerships and then also what we have learned in the United States is the actual average cost of accommodating a worker with a disability is pretty low and it is rather easy for employers to take on that cost.  And it's much better for society because if you get people with disabilities working, they are then contributing members to the society.  They are no longer on government benefits or welfare programs.  They start contributing to the tax base.

So in terms of public policy, it's absolutely the right thing to do.  And we could spend all day talking about that first topic.  As to the second topic, yes, there are many different efforts going on in terms of creating accessible technology and there's two levels of that.  One is creating the kind of technology that takes mainstream technology and turns it into something accessible.

I have something on my computer called jaws for windows, which is a screen reader which takes the text embedded in the computer code and turns it into speech.  That's one and there's all kinds of work being done in that area.

The other level, of course, is building the technology, the accessible technology right into the main stream products.  The classic example is the iPhone and the I devices.  They all have something about voiceover.  I'm not talking about Siri here.  I'm talking about voiceover, which is a part of the phone or other I device you can enable that allows you to have text‑to‑speech.  It will tell you what's on the screen and it will tell you what to do to select a certain item and of course once you build that kind of technology into your products, it just becomes very easy to continue that kind of technology.

So, again, this topic is another one that we could talk about all day.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Absolutely.  Do any of the other panelists ‑‑ Nick, do you want to make a brief comment?

>> NICOLAS SUZOR: I want to talk about the aspect of technology.  The first is at the design stage, people need to start ensuring that they are at thing about accessibility from the very start, and we need to do more to work with technologists and make sure that we have this embedded into the design.

Second, there are real political issues around the use of these accessible features.

Scott mentioned the iPhone and the IOS devices.  Another example might be Amazon's kindle, which was originally accessible because it takes the voiceover function.  Amazon to its shame enabled publishers to disable that functionality, even for the fear that it would interfere with the audio book market.  Publishers to their shame, have gone ahead and largely disabled accessible features en mass devices.  This is not a question of design, but a question of political will and we need to be vigilant about this.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Great thank you.  And on that ‑‑ oh, Trish, very quickly.  We have to wrap up.  Go ahead.

>> TRISH HEPWORTH:  I wanted to mention we also need to think when we are talking about accessibility of sort of those interlinkages.  So it's one thing to make things accessible for people who are literate but you have another larger problem when we are talking about people who potentially are not literate or speak a language that is not widely spoken.  So we have got a lot of intersectionality that really complicated a lot of these things and there's not going to be one simple, easy, technological solution as disappointing as this is.

>> MICHELE WOODS: Thank you, Trish and that's a very good, sobering, but absolutely correct note on which we can end this panel.  We're sorry we don't have room for more questions, but, of course, the panelists would be very happy to continue some of this discussion out in the hallway, and we thank everyone very much for their participation, both our panelists and the audience members who have been engaged and would obviously care very deeply about this very important topic.  So thank you very much, everyone.

(Applause)

(End of session 11:47 Central Time).

 

 

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