ICDRI WIPO Statement in Support of
the Proposed Treaty- Delivered at SCCR19 on 15 December 2009
by Cynthia D. Waddell
Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegations, the International
Center for Disability Resources on the Internet, also known as ICDRI,
appreciates the opportunity to participate in these discussions – particularly
on the proposed treaty regarding limitations and exceptions – or might I also
call it the proposed treaty on the sharing of accessible works.
As a way of background, ICDRI was privileged to serve as the UN
AD Hoc committee expert on accessible information and communications technology
(ICT) during the elaboration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities and under the leadership of His Excellency, Ambassador
Luis Gallegos of Ecuador. Today, we are assisting many countries around the
world in the implementation of the UNCRPD and appreciate being able to be here
today to support the community of persons with print disabilities.
ICDRI is a non-profit organization- founded and operated by
persons with disabilities. As an internationally recognized law, technology and
public policy center, ICDRI seeks to increase opportunities for all persons with
disabilities by identifying barriers to participation in society and promoting
best practices and universal design for the global community.
Mr. Chairman, ICDRI is very concerned about the Kindle
controversy and litigation underway in the US where the electronic book
text-to-speech feature has been turned off. This action prevents persons with
print disabilities from using innovative mainstream technology as contemplated
and supported by the UNCRPD. We believe there is a lack of understanding
regarding the application and use of screen reading software with a synthetic
voice – an assistive technology tool that has been in use for over two decades
for people with visual, mobility and cognitive disabilities.
Moreover, ICDRI notes that for three decades a book famine has
been increasing for persons with print disabilities. In fact, it is not clear
that any meaningful marketplace or volunteer solution is forthcoming.
Our experience is that when the marketplace is left to determine
consumer needs, then persons with disabilities are left out because of their
minority status. This fundamental truth was the cornerstone of ICT disability
rights legislation passed by Congress known as the 1998 Amendments to the
Rehabilitation Act, and also known as the Workforce Investment Act or Section
Today, the recent Kindle controversy has now spilled into the
international arena and demonstrates the unwillingness of rights holders to
recognize the needs and human rights of my community.
Mr. Chairman, ICDRI today echoes the call of the UNCRPD – a
historical treaty signed by the highest number of signatories for any treaty on
opening day – At this time in history, when technology has evolved to solve
issues of accessibility through accessible design and affordability, it is now
time for the law to evolve. Let’s recognize the moral obligation of nations to
guarantee the basic right to read. Let’s end the book famine now.
If you have questions or comments please e-mail them to
Submitted by Cynthia D. Waddell, Juris Doctor
Executive Director and Law, Policy and Technology Subject Matter Expert
International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet