Human rights flagship publication more accessible to all

The UN Human Rights Office’s most popular publication, “Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme, the Handbook for Civil Society”, is now accessible to people with visual and print challenges.

CD-ROM of the civil society handbook © OHCHRThe user-friendly guide explains how the different UN human rights mandates and mechanisms work, and how members of civil society, such as human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions, can engage with them most effectively. It also promotes collaboration between civil society and the UN Human Rights Office.

The Handbook includes sections on the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, including the special procedures and the universal periodic review mechanism, as well as the human rights treaty bodies, and the various complaint procedures.

Originally available in printed and on-line versions in five of the six official UN languages - namely Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish – Chinese will be available shortly - the Handbook is now available in an audio and visually enhanced format, tailored to persons with visual or print disabilities.

This initiative stems from the Office’s commitment to working with civil society actors, including those with disabilities or working on their behalf, to claim their rights. OHCHR recognizes that a dynamic and autonomous civil society, able to operate freely, knowledgeable and skilled with regard to human rights is fundamental in the promotion and protection of human rights in all world regions.

“I am determined to see greater accessibility of the UN human rights programme for persons with disabilities” said UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay.  “This modest but significant step should lead to a system-wide push for more materials to be readily accessible to all.”

The contents of the publication were converted thanks to the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) programme which reads aloud text simultaneously displayed on a computer screen but, unlike linear reading on audio books, allows for different levels of navigation. DAISY is also compatible with terminals that convert conventional text to Braille.

To read DAISY publications, users can download the AMIS software free of charge. The Handbook in this format is available now in English as a CD Rom and can be ordered from the OHCHR’s Publications Desk by contacting

December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2010