If a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act is passed by the Parliament, about 70 million of the country’s disabled will not be able to freely access text books, novels and any other printed material.
This is the message that members of the National Access Alliance (NAA), a consortium comprising disability activists pushing for appropriate amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957, gave out to the public at a press meet on Thursday.
The alliance is objecting to the proposed ‘special format’ clause in the Copyright Amendment Bill, to be tabled soon in Parliament. The special format clause allows conversion of printed material only in Braille and sign language form.
As a result, other print-impaired persons such as those with dyslexia, cerebral palsy or low-vision, will need a licence to convert printed form to audio or digital format suitable to them.
Printing Braille books is not only expensive but also not practical for college students who have vast textbook and reference material, said Sam Taraporevala, director of the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged, which is part of NAA. “The amendment would rob millions of students of their fundamental right to education,” he said.
“Over 50 countries around the world have copyright exceptions for the print impaired, and it is time that India has them too,” said Kanchan Pamnani, a lawyer and a visually impaired user of digital reading formats.
The NAA has proposed that the Copyright Act should allow the suitable conversion of print material into all formats accessible to people with various kinds of print disabilities, and that stakeholders be able to undertake conversion.