Australian Publishers' Association

The Starting Point

The Marrakesh Treaty was formulated in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013. The treaty was formulated to allow copyright exception and facilitate the creation of books and other copyright material in accessible formats for the visually impaired person (VIPs). The treaty has immense humanitarian and social development benefits across the world for the visually impaired and print disabled population.

The Treaty entered into force in September 2016 and Australia is a signatory.

The Australian Publishers' Association (APA), who represents a large array of publishing businesses identified the importance of collaboration in rolling out the implications of the treaty to ensure they maximised the benefits.

Two Australian forums have been held with representatives from the Department of Education, libraries, publishers, authors and literary agents,  people with disability as well as the Copyright Agency and the Australian Digital Alliance attending.  These organisations are generally on opposing sides of the copyright debate.

The Process

The team at Waterfield were engaged to facilitate these forums with the APA.  Waterfield’s unique approach to facilitation allowed the goals and outcomes to be established and agreed upon by those most affected by the implications of the Treaty.  Gaining consensus in a collaborative process with these key groups of representatives paved an agreed approach forward to implementing the Marrakesh Treaty in Australia which was the key objective.  Along with an agreed way forward, Waterfields strategic approach also enabled the group to rapidly map key actionable outcomes forming a clear vision of what needed to happen next to drive this project forward.

The Outcome

An exciting strategic outcome of ‘defining the book of the future’ is certainly coming to fruition. In the next 12 months, the forum has committed to a set of outcomes and strategic investments. This includes the publication of a plain English guide to accessibility standards as well as piloting 10 titles of different types of publications carrying the new standards.

The organisations involved in the forum are now taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to redefining the book of the past into something much more accessible for the visually impaired, those with literacy and language difficulties, moving to a more inclusive approach to publishing knowledge and information.

Waterfield have been critical in the success of the Marrakesh Treaty Forum. Accessibility is a complex arena with many stakeholders, competing interests and occasional political conflict. Waterfield’s rapid consensus methodology was the perfect means of bringing together disparate organisations that do not normally sit at the same table and uniting them under one clear aim - to increase accessible content for the print disabled.
— Sarah Runcie, Strategy and Policy, APA