Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Blind SA headed to high court over the Copyright Act

Blind SA is calling for changes to the 1978 Copyright Act so that blind and partially sighted people can access all published works in a format accessible to them.

The organisation, which will be represented by Section 27, has approached the high court to have the Act amended, arguing that it is unconstitutional and violates the basic human rights of blind and partially sighted people.

“The current Copyright Act of 1978 forces people who are blind or visually impaired to secure the permission of the copyright holder to translate or convert the publication into a format that is accessible. But copyright holders often reject these requests or ignore this altogether,” Blind SA says on its website

“People who are blind or visually impaired experience a book famine, with less than 0.5% of publications available in accessible formats like braille, audio or ‘daisy’. In many cases, for example in rural or underdeveloped contexts, people who are blind or visually impaired lack any accessible formatted reading materials altogether.”

With templates available to convert books and work into braille, it can be a painless process. But the Copyright Act allows no exemptions. Converting an average novel of about 300 pages to braille by producing a master copy would take 28 days and cost R24 000.

“This results in us not having access to those already existing templates and we then have to reinvent the wheel: reproduce what exists already at great expense of time and money — which many of us cannot afford,” BlindSA says.

The organisation has received the support of former constitutional court judge Zak Yacoob

“Even though I am an empowered blind person, the reading deficit was so big when I was a child that even today, my children have read more books than I have. I, therefore, believe that it is extremely urgent for books to be made available for blind and visually impaired people, in formats that they prefer [electronic, recorded or braille], so that they can advance themselves,” Yacoob said.

The case will be heard on 21 September in the high court sitting in Johannesburg.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

Zondo may miss chief justice cut

The deputy chief justice is said to top Ramaphosa’s list but his position as head of the state capture commission is seen as too politically fraught

More top stories

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

How Alpha Condé overthrew Alpha Condé

Since the coup d’état, Guinea’s head of state has been in the custody of the military officers. But it was the president who was the primary architect of his own downfall

‘The Making of Mount Edgecombe’: A view of history from...

Indian indentured labourers’ lives are celebrated in a new book, Sugar Mill Barracks: The Making of Mount Edgecombe

Case of men arrested with 19 rhino horns is postponed

Alleged rhino kingpin and a Mpumalanga businessman appeared in court on charges of the illegal possession and selling of rhino horns
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×