Saturday, February 07, 2009

TED thought for Benetech: health care education material and Bookaccess

One of the main reasons for attending TED is to get new ideas for Benetech and for the Raising the Floor movement. Although our efforts on RtF are mainly around serving people with disabilities, we are open to thinking more broadly about how these technologies could benefit more people. After all, that's the whole point of universal design!

I ran into a Stanford MBA student at TED, Joy Sun. She had been working in public health in Africa before heading to Stanford. I questioned her about how technology could help the health field, and she quickly came up with where she thought maximum leverage could be applied: helping those who are students in the health field get access to the content/textbooks they need. She described a nursing school in Luanda (I think, could have been Lusaka) that lacked textbooks or journals, and had weak PC infrastructure. But, all the students had cell phones.

Bing! I see an immediate overlap with the work we're doing with Bookshare and a new concept we've been talking to publishers about: Bookaccess. Bookaccess is where people with disabilities get their electronic books at reasonable prices, and the publisher makes some money. This is unlike Bookshare, which is for the 1-2% of the population who qualifies for the copyright exemption. But, if the publisher is making money, and we're able to deliver an electronic book, why not deliver medical education content via the cellphone to nondisabled, but economically disadvantaged people?

Of course, people are already doing some of this, but we have to go a lot further.

And, Joy supplied my TED insight for the day. Thanks, Joy!

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