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AU for the Blind asks government to ratify treaty

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African Union for the Blind, a grouping of leaders of people with visual impairment across Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has asked the government to be part of Marrakesh VIP Treaty to improve access to information for the blind.

Marrakesh VIP Treaty, which was adopted in Morocco in 2013, focuses on copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works and also to provide an opportunity for countries to share the material.

Deputy Regional Officer for African Union of the Blind Mabataung Mokete made the request at the official opening of a three-day Annual General Meeting for the Union in Blantyre.

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The meeting has attracted leaders from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland, Lesotho and other countries within Sadc region with the aim of uplifting the livelihood of people with visual impairment.

For the next three days, the representatives will share experiences, interest and knowledge suitable for advocating for the rights of the visually impaired persons.

Speaking during the opening Mokete, said the treaty is crucial as it will help to address most of the challenges people with visual impairment are facing especially accessing information.

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“We ask the government of Malawi to be part of this treaty because this is the only way that will enable countries to share books that are in Braille form and also will encourage leaders to consider having other information in print to be in a format that is accessible by the visually impaired,” said Mokete.

President of Malawi Union of the Blind Mapopa Shaba said people with visual impairment are still facing challenges.

“Pupi ls with visual impairment are finding it hard to excel in education because of lack of learning materials and government has to put in much effort to make the learning materials available in Braille form,” stated Shaba.

Director of Programmes Management and Evaluation in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social welfare Felix Sapala stated that government is currently discussing with relevant stakeholders to ensure that it becomes a full member of the treaty.

So far, 51 countries signed the treaty at the close of the conference in Marrakesh in Morocco. The ratification of 20 states is needed for the treaty to go into effect.

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