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Showing posts from January, 2011

Liz Halperin's Dream

I just got an email from the incredible Liz Halperin. She's one of our Bookshare team members and also happens to be deaf and blind. She shoots me me very interesting ideas frequently, and I thought I'd share this one with my blog readers. I can't quite figure out how to make it, but I bet someone will!!

Hi Jim, Busy, busy man. But I'm intruding because you are "intrude-able" and I have a dream. Like all good science fiction, it starts as a dream, and then somehow becomes real. You have blogged about various funders looking for those "great leaps of imagination", that if created, could make a huge benefit to people.

My idea has likely been floated already, I have no idea. But it's tech-time sci fi.

I imagine I have a small, lightweight box or sphere or flat case like a woman's cosmetic compact in my rear jeans/slacks pocket , purse/briefcase or backpack. I stand in front of a building and pull out the item, and push a button on it or give a…

Lawsuit over denying access to a student with learning disabilities

We're really proud of the rapid growth of our Bookshare online library for people with print disabilities. We're up to more than 125,000 users, with over 95,000 books available, and our users are now accessing content at a rate of more than million downloads per year!

That's why it's painful to hear about disputes over denying students with very real print disabilities access to these resources. I've recently been corresponding with a mother whose son's school district seems to be suing them to deny access to accessible material. She asked me to comment on a bunch of issues around Bookshare, and we prepared the comments below. I'm really hoping more information will help resolve these kinds of disputes: I'm often surprised at the things I hear from the field.

Statement on Bookshare
January 24, 2011

Response to Request for Information
Benetech, the nonprofit parent of the Bookshare online library for people with print disabilities, is responding to a r…

Brainstorm in Providence with a side of Serendipity

I occasionally get invited to small group brainstorms of key leaders in fields where we’re active (and we’re active in a lot of fields!). I’m on the plane home from one such weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, held at Brown University. The Think Different Summit was 15-20 smart people, led by an experienced facilitator, trying to imagine the future of the learning disability rights movement.

The outcomes of the brainstorm aren’t for me to share, although I look forward to tweeting/blogging as some of these results hit the web. But, I can share the excitement of being part of this process and some of the things I learned.

For one thing, it was the first meeting with a major presence of adults with avowed learning disabilities. Of course, with the prevalence of people with learning disabilities in the population being one in four or five, they’ve been part of probably every meeting I’ve ever been to! But, these leaders were “out” about their disability.

And so, the first insight fo…

Russia rights groups get help from Microsoft

Patrick Ball and I have often discussed the risks to social justice groups from using unlicensed proprietary software. A government could suppress a group using "piracy" as a reason, rather than criticism of the government. We've seen this happen in places like Russia.

That's why it's heartening to read an article like this in the Christian Science Monitor, Russia rights groups get help from unlikely champion: Microsoft. It doesn't help Microsoft to be associated with suppression of environmental and human rights groups, and it's great to see them do the right thing!

Benetech Truths

Benetech has spent a good part of this last year thinking about what's next for our mission and our team. A crucial part of that effort has been to identify what we think is uniquely true about Benetech. This portion was an internally focused effort based on conversations with our team. We came up with the following truths as part of that process. You might call them Benetech's values, but we didn't look at traditional organizational value statements while drafting these truths. Writing them down has been powerful for us: these truths articulate who we are and how we do things at Benetech. We're striving now to fully live up to them!

Benetech Truths1 We are committed to social change through technology.Benetech is a Silicon Valley nonprofit organization developing innovative technology solutions with a primary goal of positive social change rather than profit.
2 We get stuff done.Benetech has a record of success in securing funding, creating partnerships, and delive…