The right to read

EIFL supports adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities and swift implementation into national law

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Two young men sitting at a library desk working with new Daisy players. The instruction booklet is on the desk.
Blind and visually impaired students in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, work with digital audio equipment.

The Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities (official name: Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled) was adopted by WIPO member states on 27th June 2013. It entered into force on 30th September 2016, when the requisite number of countries (20 in total) joined the treaty.

The Marrakesh Treaty set out to address a huge problem: the fact that only 1-7% of published books are in a format that blind and visually impaired people can read. As a result, millions of people are deprived from reading books and newspapers, gaining education and employment, and participating fully in society. This problem was partly caused by obstacles created by copyright law - obstacles that the treaty committed to remove. 

Hailed as the ‘Miracle of Marrakesh’, the treaty was a major success for countries that proposed the treaty - Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, organizations representing blind people, and for libraries that helped to shape the successful outcome.

Now the Marrakesh Treaty has become a global success story: it is WIPO’s fastest moving and most popular treaty in terms of take-up by member states, reaching the milestone of 100 countries by October 2020. By 27th June 2023, the tenth anniversary of its adoption, a total of 119 countries had joined the treaty - over 60% of WIPO’s membership.

EIFL is proud to have supported more than one fifth of these ratifications in Africa, Asia and Europe (current and former partner countries -  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Botswana, Côte d'Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Malawi, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe). Take-up in low income countries is especially important since 90% of people with print disabilities live in developing and least developed countries.

EIFL's support for the Marrakesh Treaty

EIFL actively supported negotiations on the text of the draft treaty over five years at WIPO's headquarters in Geneva, and we participated in the Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh that adopted the final treaty text on 27 June 2013.

The Marrakesh Treaty provides libraries with an opportunity to boost services to people with print disabilities. Libraries in every country have a long history serving people with print disabilities, and are one of the primary sources of accessible reading material. And under the treaty, blind people's organizations, libraries and other authorized entities can engage in cross-border sharing of accessible format materials.

To encourage wide take-up, EIFL has been working hard to promote ratification of the treaty and implementation in partner countries - we raise awareness among librarians and policy-makers, support advocacy campaigns, organize seminars, develop multilingual guides, respond to government consultations, review copyright laws and make recommendations for amendments to implement the treaty. For a round-up of our work, see the feature in EIFL's 2020 Annual Report ‘The Right to Read for People with Print Disabilities (p.7)’, and EIFL's blog, 'Celebrating 10 years of the Marrakesh Treaty'.


  • We support projects and advocacy in EIFL partner countries to encourage ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and where required, implementation of the treaty’s provisions into national copyright law.
  • We provide practical information on putting the treaty into practice and encourage librarians in partner countries to make full use of their new rights and responsibilities under the treaty.


2013 - Ongoing


  • By December 2023, EIFL advocacy had contributed to 26 countries joining the Marrakesh Treaty benefiting an estimated 37 million people who are blind and visually impaired: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Botswana, Côte d'Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Malawi, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
  • We also reviewed the copyright laws of 27 countries and we made recommendations for implementation of Marrakesh Treaty provisions into national law.
  • In October 2023, we published an Information Note, 'Why libraries in Armenia can use the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities without changes to national copyright law' available here.
  • In September 2023, to mark entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty in Ukraine, we updated our information sheet helping EU libraries that are supporting Ukrainian refugees with print disabilities available here.
  • In April 2023, we launched the Kenyan edition of the 'Getting Started’ implementation guide with KLISC, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and Bookshare Africa. Read about the launch here, watch video highlights here.
  • EIFL was a finalist for the 2020 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing .
  • In 2019, we co-organized the first international workshop dedicated to operationalizing the Marrakesh Treaty among a regional group of libraries - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus and Russia.
  • We have developed multilingual resources for librarians and policy-makers including:
    • In 2014, published the first advocacy guide to the treaty. ‘The Marrakesh Treaty: an EIFL Guide for Libraries’ provides a straightforward introduction to the treaty, its key provisions and benefits for libraries to support librarians advocating to their governments to ratify the treaty. It is available online in nine languages, Arabic, English, French, Lithuanian, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish.
    • In 2018, co-launched a new practical guide with our international partners. ‘Getting Started: Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities. A practical guide for librarians’ sets out steps for libraries of all types on how to start using the treaty, once the country has joined the treaty and libraries can start offering new services to people with print disabilities. The guide is available in English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
    • We organized the adaptation of the ‘Getting Started’ guide for the local law in three countries: Belarus (English and Russian), Brazil, Portuguese) and Kenya (English).


How a WIPO treaty for persons with print disabilities can change lives - testimonies presented by EIFL at the WIPO Diplomatic Conference that adopted the Marrakesh Treaty (2013).

Profiles - EIFL Annual Report

  • Inga Davidoniene, Director, Lithuanian Library for the Blind (2019). View in Word or online.
  • Gulnaz Zhuzbaeva, Director of the Kyrgyz Federation of the Blind, Kyrgyzstan (2018). View in Word or online.
  • Dastan Bekeshev Member of Parliament, Kyrgyzstan (2017). View in Word or online.
  • Gorata Matome, Student, Botswana (2016). View in Word or online.
  • M. Tsengel, Accessible Technology Expert, Mongolia (2015). View in Word or online.

round-up of RESOURCES

Imagine being able to easily get accessible materials from other countries, that would be a dream. It would spur other students in Lesotho to study and lead fulfilled lives. It will assist the real efforts of the government of Lesotho to promote the participation of people with disability in society.
Nkhasi Sefuthi, Human Rights and Advocacy Officer, Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD)