June 2010 Archives

Inclusive Planet's statement on the treaty for the Print Impaired at WIPO

We are glad to tell you that Inclusive Planet has been accredited as an observer to the WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization.

Rahul Cherian is present at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights happening at the moment in Switzerland.

Following is the statement of Inclusive Planet, India on the matter of the Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled, proposed by Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico  and Paraguay.

June 21, 2010

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and ladies and gentlemen , I thank the WIPO Secretariat for processing our accreditation to the WIPO as an observer and the decision of this Committee to accredit my organization. I represent Inclusive Planet Foundation, a non profit organisation based in India, focusing on policy reform in the disability space as a part of which we have been campaigning in India for appropriate amendments to Indian copyright law to create exceptions and limitations to enable persons with disabilities to access material in alternate formats. Our sister organisation, a for profit organization runs Inclusivelanet.com, one of the fastest growing social networks for persons with visual impairment, with users from 80 countries. Inclusive Planet's Services division provides technology solutions and consultancy to organisations related to web and content accessibility.

Mr. Chairman, Inclusive Planet Foundation believes that the Treaty proposed by Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay is essential to improve the lives of the millions of persons with disabilities in India and we are extremely supportive of the Treaty for the following reasons:

Read the full article here:


News from Kindle;

We're writing to give you an update on Kindle initiatives relevant to blind and vision-impaired users.

A new, free software update is now available for Kindle. Vision-impaired customers will benefit from two new larger font sizes and font enhancements that improve the clarity of the text for a more comfortable reading experience. The largest font available is now more than twice the size of the previous largest font.

This software update will be available shortly on all newly shipped Kindle devices and will be delivered wirelessly to all existing devices except 1st generation Kindles. Learn more about the features included in this update.

We're committed to addressing the needs of blind and vision-impaired customers and we'll send updates to this list as new, relevant features become available.

While learning more about print disabilities during this fellowship with Benetech I am also being exposed to some wonderful art:

A famous local artist, Virginia Doyle, has graciously lent her work to Benetech/Bookshare for display on conference room and hall walls.

The unique aspect of this display is that in 2002, Virginia was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a medical condition of the eye that makes it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces.  This disease is a leading cause of blindness among older citizens due to the loss of light sensing cells in the retina.

Many view her work as representations of the world through the eyes and lens of a person with macular degeneration.  Viewers glimpse the world she sees and the gentle places she builds that represent love, nature, peace, and family.

Spring Field

Spring Field

An Inner Landscape. A painting Virginia created while losing her 
vision of a photograph of her retina.

A painting Virginia created while losing her vision of a photograph of her retina.

Virginia says, "Painting is a wonderful pastime!  A day will go by and I don't know it because I'm so happily involved."

Virginia painted as a young child in oil and acrylic and then moved on to watercolor, the most difficult of paint mediums, she laughingly declares.  "Watercolor is unforgiving.  You can't paint over your mistakes!"

Today her artwork climbs over boundaries for a more abstract point of view, as she borrows ideas and images from life as a sighted artist.  A self-taught artist, Virginia took lessons in all types of mediums from print making to silk screening, color theory, drawing, and to etching.  Her free-style art combines the brilliance of Latin America, a place she has lived and the subtle light reflections of French Impressionists, a style she admires. Her artwork is a mixture of colors, shapes, shadows, and form reflections that weave and dance off the canvas.


Jim Fruchterman, founder of Benetch, is blogging and tweeting from Geneva this week:

I'm here in Geneva for the 20th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights meeting. This is the international forum for discussing copyright issues, and it is the body considering the Treaty for the Visually Impaired (TVI)...

Hot issue this week are the now four proposals on solving the problem of access to print by people with print disabilities globally:

  • The TVI: the treaty sponsored originally by the World Blind Union and supported at WIPO by Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico. [I was one of the co-drafters of the treaty language]
  • The U.S. draft Joint Recommendation
  • The EU draft Joint Recommendation
  • The African broader Treaty draft
Follow him here:


The following is from the Huffington Post and written by James Love:

On Monday June 21, 2010, the World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) will consider whether to adopt a work program on a treaty for
persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Behind the scenes, the
Obama Administration has been trying to scuttle the treaty, pressuring
other countries to abandon support for the treaty, and proposing an
alternative to the treaty that would do almost nothing to expand access
to copyrighted materials.
The recent U.S. actions against the treaty are orchestrated by the
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency headed by
David Kappos.
There are now many promising technologies to expand access for people
who are blind or have other disabilities. Digital works delivered over
the Internet or through cell phones can be accessed with refreshable
braille readers, through synthetic text to speech, or in other ways, It
is often expensive to take books and other copyrighted works created in
inaccessible formats, and to make digital versions that are accessible,
and also easy to navigate and use. (See the work of the DAISy
The United States spends tens of millions of dollars annually to create
accessible versions of copyrighted works, and despite this investment,
at best only about 5 percent of published books are accessible, and far
fewer periodicals and informal publications protected by copyright. Most
of the work in the U.S. is done under the Chafee Amendment -- an
exception to the rights of copyright owners. According to WIPO, 57
countries have similar exceptions. The actual details of the exceptions
vary considerably from country to country, and the majority of
developing countries have no exceptions for persons disabilities.
The United States, like most other countries, will not export its
accessible formats of works to other countries. The U.S. does not export
to Canada, Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, England, Australia, India or
the many countries where people speak English as a second language.
Spanish speaking countries do not share accessible works with each
other. Each country pretty much has to create its own separate libraries
for the blind. This inefficient legal system has contributed to an
extreme scarcity of accessible works for persons with disabilities,
particularly in developing countries. Uruguay, for example, can only
produce about 50 new accessible works per year
produce about 50 new accessible works per year.
For more than 25 years, the World Blind Union, the International
Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and others
have pressed WIPO to create an enabling legal environment for the
sharing of accessible works across borders. This involves two things --
agreements on the rules for importing and exporting works, and some
harmonization of the exceptions themselves. To this end, a strong treaty
proposal was introduced in WIPO in 2009, by Brazil, Ecuador and
Paraguay, now joined by Mexico.

Publishers have opposed the treaty. At first the U.S. opposed discussion
of the treaty, but seemed to have changed its position in December of
2009. But more recently things have changed again, and not for the
better. What David Kappos recently described as a "breakthrough" in the
negotiations is a self described "consensus" proposal that seems to have
no consensus
no consensus, and consists of a weak recommendation that countries
consider authorizing exports of works, under a new regulatory regime
designed by publishers.
The USTPO has been lobbying developing countries to abandon the more
ambitious and important treaty proposal, and reportedly falsely claiming
to have the support of blindness groups in the United States for doing
What changed? Three important things.
Ronald Kirk, head of USTR
1. In 2009, Susan Crawford worked in the White House, and was an
important supporter of the treaty. Susan left the White House staff at
the end of last year.
2. Lobbied by Publishers, including the (AAP), the MPAA, RIIA, SIIA
and IIPA, Ambassador Ronald Kirk, has weighed in against the treaty.
3. Justin Hughes, the head of the US delegation to WIPO, has become a
candidate to replace Marybeth Peters, as the new Register of Copyrights
for the Library of Congress. Hughes does not want to alienate the AAP,
On Monday, four days of negotiations on this issue begin. Blindness and
other disabilities groups are being asked to lower expectations, and
accept something smaller, and less important, than what they need and
what should should have. I'm frankly embarrassed that my own government
is not providing more leadership on this issue of human rights and
social justice. I expected more out of the USPTO under David Kappos.
The situation in Europe is also depressing. After a long period of
opposition and then indifference to the Treaty proposal, the European
Union has offered its own alternative. How weak it it? Among other
things, it requires the "consent" of copyright owners to share works
under exceptions to copyright laws.
Why are the publishers and their responsive friends in the US and EU
governments so opposed the efforts to create strong global exceptions
for persons who have disabilities? They are afraid this will set a
precedent for other global exceptions, in areas where the markets are
significant, like education.

It takes a bit of theatrics to be a good tour guide. You ned to know your subject area and then add just a bit more.

When you work as a team like Shelley Rhodes you may also want to be sure your parter doesn't steal all the glory!

Rhodes is a veteran Guide Dog handler, although Ludden is her first Lab. Her first two dogs were Golden Retrievers. "I got my first, Judson, when I was 18," Shelly, who's now 28, explained. She remembered that first meeting very well. "He gave me a big lick then lay down and went to sleep. I asked the trainer if that was normal, and he assured me it was. Then we had our first trip outside. The dogs had not been worked for a week so they were ready to go. I told Judson to go forward and, oh my gosh, suddenly he was dragging me down the street. It was like being pulled by a freight train. Then he stopped at the curb and got himself calmed down. He's turned out to be a great dog. He and I were partners through college, graduate school and my first job. He's retired now and living with my parents."

She said Judson was known to be a real ham. Once they were invited to help guide a float in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "He loved it," she said. "Being a Golden, he thought all the people along the way were applauding for him. He even got to lick [smooth jazz saxophonist] Kenny G that day."

Rhodes and Judson were campus tour guides at college and he was so popular he was presented with an award. "He was such a show off," she smiled. "At the ceremony when he got on stage to receive his reward he turned to the audience, tail wagging, smile on his face and lifted one paw as if to say 'Thank you very much.' He got a standing ovation."

See Guide Dogs for the Blind for the full story: