Posts

Showing posts from October, 2005
Recently we asked for some of the thousands of people with disabilities using Bookshare.org to share how it has helped them. These thoughts from Chancey Fleet were particularly eloquent and I wanted to share it with you all.

For most students, the freshman year of college is a time for discovering intellectual strength, getting behind a cause or two, and exchanging rapid-fire theories on life, the universe and everything at 3 AM when you should be writing the paper that's due at 9.

As a blind freshman, I managed to do all those things, but I always came up against one immense barrier: I couldn't just pick up a book and read it. I got my textbooks on tape, and read them too, when the narrator didn't put me to sleep. I took pathetic notes; you can't write in a tape's margins. I developed a trademark nod-and-smile for anyone who tried to recommend a book to me, because with my friends reading such a variety of interesting things, and the Library of Congress only prod…
Image
I came to Amsterdam yesterday to attend a summit meeting of open source foundations. It was fascinating for me, as I realize this is yet another vibrant and growing community of social enterprises.

There seem to be dozens of these groups, each built around one or more open source software project. Common threads included:
- Volunteers contributing to the creation of the software, generally organized around a meritocracy
- Corporate support in the form of explicit sponsorships and/or paying corporate employees to work on the projects
- Nonprofit status, reflecting the social nature of the community
- Financial tensions, as the foundations themselves grapple with earned income and sustainability while interacting with corporate sponsors
- And, of course, free or open source licenses to the software being created

The majority of groups at the summit were from Europe or were international groups with significant European leadership. Yet, the social enterprise issues were similar to the one…

Benetech helps drive indictment of a former dictator.

Benetech helps drive indictment of a former dictator.

Our team has contributed critical information that has helped Human Rights Watch with its campaign to bring the former dictator of Chad to justice. This is a great example of the power of information technology to advance the cause of victims of gross human rights abuses.

On September 27, 2005 a Belgian judge issued an international arrest warrant charging Hissène Habré with atrocities during his 1982-90 rule. Hissène Habré's rule over the former French colony of Chad from 1982 to 1990 was marked by numerous and credible allegations of systematic torture and crimes against humanity.

We have just put up a new page about how Benetech's Human Rights team has analyzed secret police documents discovered by a Human Rights Watch field effort, with much more on this important effort. Be sure to check it out if you're interested in seeing how IT can help with the pursuit of justice for human rights victims.
Bookshare.org is Rookie of the Year Finalist from EdNET. We were delighted to get this recognition, which is a measure of our move into the education field with Bookshare.org. It wasn't until last year that we really moved into providing books for students with disabilities, and we're still in the beginning phases of providing every student with a print disability with an accessible version of every textbook and trade book they need for educational outcomes!
The Google Library question is a hot one, and we believe that this project will lead to better access for disadvantaged people. But, the disputes between Google and the publishing industry and authors needs to be concluded before things will move forward. The core question is whether Google's Library program is a fair use of copyrighted material. Good summary in the attached review post: Does Google Library violate copyright?