20 September 2010 – The soul music star and United Nations Messenger for Peace Stevie Wonder today urged the international community to facilitate access to copyright material to people with visual disabilities, saying such a move would help them acquire more learning tools and enable them to live independent lives.
Mr. Wonder launched his “Declaration of freedom for people with disabilities” at the start of the annual meeting of Member States of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.
He said the declaration was “a call to action, a plan to empower the independence of people with disabilities by providing them with the tools to learn and grow.”
“Through your legislative efforts, incentives can be created to advance the blind and visually disabled towards the promise of a better life,” Mr. Wonder told the ministers and policy-makers from WIPO’s 184 Member States. He challenged delegates in the 10-day event to strike an agreement on improved access to copyright protected works by visually impaired persons (VIPs) within a year.
“We must declare a state of emergency, and end the information deprivation that continues to keep the visually impaired in the dark. We must spread the word that the untapped genius of the 300 plus million who have a visual disability are in need of our love and action; today, not tomorrow, but today,” the award-winning United States singer and songwriter said.
“While I know that it is critical not to act to the detriment of the authors who labour to create the great works that enlighten and nourish our minds, hearts and souls, we must develop a protocol that allows the easy import and export of copyright materials so that people with print disabilities can join the mainstream of the literate world,” he said.
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