Supporting Ukrainian Refugees with Print Disabilities: Information for EU libraries providing accessible reading materials (English version)

EIFL information sheet for European libraries seeking to provide books and other materials in accessible formats for Ukrainians with print disabilities who have relocated to European countries for their safety since the Russian invasion

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September 2023

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many of the seven million people forced to relocate for their safety have entered the European Union, where they have been granted temporary protection. The majority are women and children. Teachers all over Europe are working to integrate Ukrainian children into local schools with language, learning and curriculum support. 

Those who are blind and visually impaired face additional obstacles, and the availability of reading material in accessible formats, such as Braille and digital audio, in the Ukrainian language plays a vital role in supporting education and integration. Libraries in the EU are seeking to quickly source accessible books and other reading materials to cater for this new need. 

The Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities provides an excellent international legal framework that allows the making and distribution of accessible format copies for people with print disabilities, and the sharing of accessible books across national borders. The EU implemented the treaty in 2018, while Ukraine joined and implemented in 2023 (the treaty entered into force in Ukraine on 8th September 2023).

This information sheet sets out the copyright situation with respect to the making and sharing of accessible format materials in Ukraine and within the EU, taking Lithuania as a case study. The Information Sheet was originally published in 2022. In 2023, it was updated to take into account Ukraine's accession to the Marrakesh Treaty.