This December 2012 issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) contains articles that exemplify the diversity of our field, with topics that include orientation and mobility, tactile exploratory procedures of a woman who is deaf-blind, object permanence in children who have multiple disabilities, and a scale to measure teacher's self-efficacy in deaf-blindness education. With the articles coming respectively from authors in South Africa, the Netherlands and the United States, the issue also demonstrates the international scope of the journal.
The importance of having an international perspective is uppermost in my mind as I write this editorial, since I just returned from Bangkok after attending the first ever Joint General Assembly of the World Blind Union (WBU) and International Council on Education of People who are Visually Impaired (ICEVI). WBU is comprised of groups of various national organizations from 190 countries who work on issues affecting quality of life for blind people; ICEVI is made up of groups and individuals concerned with promoting equal access to appropriate education for all children and youths with visual impairments.
The opening session began with a discussion by Francis Gurry, the director general of the World International Property Organization (WIPO), about the work to develop a treaty that would enable access to print materials for people with visual impairments and those with print disabilities. Dr. Gurry indicated the progress that has been made toward adoption of this treaty, and the legal, technical, and operational obstacles to its acceptance. Jim Fruchterman, of Benetech, discussed the challenges to equality of access to information, including the shift to electronic distribution of print materials, the alignment of accessible digital formats, and global access to published materials to allow for easy import and export of materials. In short, just because material is digital and accessible does not make it more available to people in other countries, which is the basis for the argument in support of the treaty to override copyright restrictions from country to country. …