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Showing posts from December, 2009

Giving the Gift of Accessibility

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There's so much going on these days at Bookshare: a growing community that's getting hard to keep track of!


We came up with a book wishlist for donors who wanted to pitch in and buy specific books requested by Bookshare members. We have talented members of the team that whip together graphics and even videos to promote these! It was fun singing along in the Bookshare holiday video.

One donor made a special offer to our top volunteers, those who have provided at least 150 books to Bookshare: that they could request any one book and we'd (not they!) get the book scanned and into Bookshare. More than fifty book requests have already come in. Our Volunteer Coordinator, Pavi Mehta, sent me this email last week and I thought it was definitely blog-worthy!

From: Pavi Mehta
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 11:36 AM
To: Bookshare Team
Subject: Thank You Notes from the Volunteers

Hi All,

Just wanted to send out these snippets of appreciation from volunteers (in response to what Car…

The Peer Water Exchange | Blue Planet Run

It never ceases to amaze me: the cool social entrepreneurs that I get to meet all the time, coming up with mind-blowing innovative ways to accomplish social good.

I was recently introduced to Lisa Nash of the Blue Planet Run Foundation, about their Peer Water Exchange. Get this: the funding decisions on their new clean water projects are made by peer project leaders. So, your effort to address the needs of your community through a new water or sanitation project is going to be evaluated by a group of people who have been through doing the same thing in their communities. Not only that, projects agree to remain part of the network, providing information about the success of their projects after they are completed.

With all the energy around effectiveness and transparency, PWX is a great example of how to operate a network of hundreds of projects in different communities, with the detailed project information available to donors and partners. Wondering about whether a proposed pro…

Flat World Knowledge Partnership

We got great feedback about our announcement a couple of weeks ago about doing open content textbooks for K-12, thanks for funding from the US Department of Education. How were we going to top that one?

By announcing we're doing open content college textbooks with Flat World Knowledge, a cool for-profit startup. I mentioned meeting one of their key people at BYU last month in a recent Beneblog post.

The announcement got a ton of pickup: more than a dozen stories came out, including one at Publishers Weekly.

Why am I so excited? Because open content scores on so many counts. For Bookshare, these are high quality textbooks that are free to everybody on the planet, that we can adapt to be highly accessible for people with disabilities. Because they are covered by open content licenses, we don't have to have people prove they have qualifying disabilities. Parents, teachers, teachers-in-training, people with disabilities, people who can't read, people who just want to hea…

Reply Comments on the Proposed Treaty for Access to Copyrighted Works

We filed the following comments to the Copyright Office's request for comments on issues about access for people with print disabilities. Background on this can be reviewed at the Knowledge Ecology International website.

December 4, 2009

Benetech’s Reply Comments
in response to the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry and Request for Comments on the Topic of Facilitating Access to Copyrighted Works for the Blind or Other Persons With Disabilities

The issue all comes down to human rights vs. money.

The human rights issue we’re discussing are the human rights of people with disabilities that cannot effectively use the printed word. The printed word is essential for education, employment and social inclusion. The status quo is that people with print disabilities are experiencing a book famine. And famines have consequences. Most of this community doesn’t have access to formal education, most of this community doesn’t have access to jobs and most of this community isn’t recognized by large…