Disability law expert pushes for e-books to be more inclusive

14 Sep 2018

University of Queensland international disability law expert Dr Paul Harpur will meet with the Australian Human Rights Commissioner today to discuss ways to improve access to e-books for people with a disability.

Dr Harpur said the current system was failing duty holders and Australians with disabilities.

“Duty holders, such as universities, spend thousands scanning and modifying books where these are readily available in digital formats now,” Dr Harpur said.

“In most cases it would take very little to enable full and equal access,” he said.

Dr Paul Harpur

In his submission to the Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Harpur proposes that manufacturers and suppliers of e-books should be required, at a minimum, to inform customers on the extent to which their products adopt universal design practices.

“With so much support in the education sector for disability inclusivity and universal design, it could be possible to achieve significant results through the adoption of voluntary standards and providing support for clarifying what access requires,” he said.

Dr Harpur’s submission draws largely from his publication Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the E-Book for the Print Disabled, published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press and his ongoing work with Harvard Law School Professor Michael Stein on universities as change agents and enabling technologies.

Dr Harpur is also an international distinguished fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, New York. 

Contact: Dr Paul Harpur, +61 3365 8864 or p.harpur@law.uq.edu.au or media@law.uq.edu.au