After a global group of negotiators agreed to make written public works available to millions of blind and visually impaired people throughout the world, famous recording artist Stevie Wonder joined them in Marrakesh, Morocco, to ensure the new treaty was signed, sealed and delivered, according to a statement from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The international conference marked an end to the “book famine” that starved the more than 300 million blind and visually disabled people globally of published works in braille, large print text and audio books. The accord would help visually impaired people worldwide who are currently excluded from access to more than 90 percent of all published works.

At the conference, WIPO delegates addressed laws created by strict international copyrights on reading materials for the visually impaired. The new treaty would create exceptions and limits to reproduction and distribution laws for published works.

“This is a legacy, a gift to future generations,” said Wonder, who has been blind since shortly after birth, in a recorded video sent to the meeting. “[It] opens doors to the world’s written treasures and moves toward a future where there are no barriers to the expansion of knowledge and enjoyment of culture.”

After the conference, Wonder called on international delegates to return to their capitals and ensure that the pact, now known as the “Marrakesh Treaty,” is implemented after being ratified by the United Nations in the coming weeks. Advocates stressed that the primary responsibility for implementation will remain in the hands of international publishers.

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