NCC Inaugurates First Accessibility Day, Advocates for Inclusive Publishing Practices

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The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has urged publishers, state governments, and all involved in the book industry to guarantee that books and educational materials funded by taxpayers are accessible to individuals who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled.

Dr. John O. Asein, the Director-General of the NCC, emphasized the importance of accessible publishing during his address at a workshop held on October 4, 2023. This event, organized by the Commission in partnership with the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), commemorated Nigeria’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, achieved on October 4, 2017, and incorporated into the Copyright Act of 2022.

Highlighting the significance of promoting quality education through accessible publishing, Dr. Asein reaffirmed the Federal Government’s dedication to leveraging Nigeria’s intellectual capital and abundant talents to bolster the creative economy. He stressed the necessity of ensuring that Nigeria’s copyright system empowers all citizens, regardless of disability, to achieve their full potential.

Dr. Asein emphasized that incorporating the Marrakesh Treaty into the Copyright Act would enhance access to literature, alleviate the book scarcity in Nigeria, and facilitate quality education for a substantial portion of the population living with print disabilities. He urged stakeholders within the knowledge ecosystem to endorse inclusive publishing and increase the availability of books, 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 ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty and discussed Google’s efforts to ensure universal access to information through technology.

The workshop featured presentations by Dr. Ifeolu Akintunde, CEO of IOA Consults Ltd. UK, on “Making Education Accessible to the Blind: The Place of Braille and Modern Learning Tools,” and Mr. Richard Ormes, CEO of the Daisy Consortium, U.S.A., on “Enhancing Education, Work, and Recreation for the Blind and Visually Impaired through Accessible Publishing: A Win-Win Model.” Both speakers applauded the Commission for organizing Accessibility Day, providing a platform to address the challenges faced by blind school children and visually impaired individuals in accessing learning materials. They urged the government to promote braille education and equip school libraries with accessible books.

Mr. Stanley Oyebuchi, National President of the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), expressed gratitude to the NCC for not only ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty but also for taking practical steps to ensure its benefits positively impact the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals. He called on the government to prioritize braille literacy in schools.

Supported by the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Babcock University Press, Evans Publishers, and Accessible Publishers (formerly Rasmed Publications), the workshop underscored the Commission’s commitment to fully implementing Nigeria’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty. Dr. Asein announced that Nigeria Accessibility Day would be celebrated annually to advance inclusivity and accessibility for visually impaired and print disabled persons. The well-attended workshop was moderated by former NAB President Mr. David Okon.

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