People with Disabilities

Australia’s copyright legislation allows the conversion of copyright content, such as books, into accessible formats for people with print disabilities, without infringing the copyright owners’ rights.

These uses include making sound recordings, Braille versions, large-print versions, adaptations, photographic and electronic versions of copyright works.

In December 2017, the provisions in the Copyright Act (the legislation) for people with a disability changed.

The legislation is different for people working in education institutions and specialist institutions assisting people with a disability than it is for people working in other organisations.

In either case, however, the first step is to check if the content can be purchased in the required format. If not, check if it can be borrowed or acquired from another organisation that holds a copy in the required format.

If the content can’t be acquired in the format the person with the disability needs, you can usually create an accessible version for them. If you don’t work for an education institution or a specialist institution assisting people with a disability, however, you need to check that the accessible version will not harm a current or potential market for the content.

Checking if you can buy the content in the format the person needs

First check specialist suppliers such as Read How You Want and Bolinda. Then check the website for the publisher of the mainstream version. Some publishers have information about accessible versions on their websites. Otherwise, contact the publisher.

Checking if someone else already has the content in the format the person needs

Specialist disability organisations and education institutions have uploaded information about accessible versions they have created to the online catalogue known as the Masters Copy Catalogue, hosted by Copyright Agency. Those institutions are listed here: If you have a login to the online catalogue, you can see ‘master copies’ held by institutions here. If you don’t, please contact Copyright Agency for assistance.

There is also an international catalogue established by the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) Global Book Service here. Organisations involved include the World Blind Union, DAISY Consortium, World Intellectual Property Organization, International Authors Forum and International Publishers Association.

The Accessible Books Consortium also has a webpage called ‘Websites Offering Accessible Books’: see here. It includes libraries and commercial providers from around the world.

Creating an accessible version

If you can’t buy or acquire an accessible version in the format that the person needs, you can create an accessible version.

If your process produces ‘intermediate’ copies, you shouldn’t retain these. If you work in an education institution or a specialist institution assisting people with a disability, you can retain a ‘master copy’ that you can use to produce accessible versions for the same person or other people with a disability in the future.

Supplying an accessible version

You can supply an accessible version by any means, provided it is just for the person with the disability, and doesn’t result in other people getting access to accessible version. This includes emailing to the person, and uploading to an online location from which it can only be viewed and/or downloaded by the person with the disability.

If you have made the accessible version from a digital file provided by a publisher, you may also need to check that you have complied with any of the publisher’s terms and conditions for provision of the file.

More information

Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund supported The Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI) in their development of a guide to help increase access to published material for people living with print disabilities in Australia. The Inclusive Publishing in Australia guide is available on the AIPI website.

Marrakesh Treaty Forum Communiqué

Representatives of the publishing industry, authors, libraries, copyright, disability associations, government and accessible format providers joined together in November 2016, and again in November 2017, for a far-reaching exchange of information and ideas to progress the Marrakesh Treaty’s implementation in Australia.

The aim of the Forum is to identify the key challenges in making published material accessible to the print disabled and to identify the pathways to address those challenges.

The Forum looked at Marrakesh Treaty implementation, and at medium-to-long-term initiatives with respect to ‘Born Accessible’ content in the commercial sector.

More here.

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