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Showing posts from July, 2013

When Flexibility Becomes an Operating Principle: Lessons from a Nonprofit

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This post originally appeared on CSRwire Talkback.

The staff at Benetech, the nonprofit tech company I lead, recently came together to answer this question: “What values define our identity and drive our work?” It was a very meaningful exercise for our entire team, resulting in what we call “The Seven Benetech Truths.” Among them are truths like “We Get Stuff Done” and “Value Flexibility” — highlighting that we focus intensely on results and upholding our commitments, while also being flexible about how we get the work done. For many in the nonprofit space, being “flexible” and “getting stuff done” don’t always go hand in hand. But for an organization like Benetech, naming them as part of our values and putting them into action has led to better ideas and stronger products. Our most recent initiative, SocialCoding4Good, and last week’s launch of its Corporate Partner Program, which offers companies a new, skills-based volunteering channel for employee engagement and their pro bono i…

We Have a Treaty…and It’s Great!

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I’ve been actively advocating for an international copyright exception model that would greatly benefit people with disabilities, as anyone who has read my blog over the years can attest! My passion at Benetech for the last twenty-five years has been making technology tools to meet the reading needs of people who are blind, dyslexic or have other print disabilities. After all, Benetech’s Bookshare initiative is the largest online library serving people with print disabilities in the world.  We help more than 250,000 people with print disabilities thanks to our U.S. copyright exception. We could serve many more with a comparable international model.

Last month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco, with the hope of taking a huge step forward and designing that international model. I’m excited to report: they did just that. The “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled,” wh…

On the Future of Braille: Thoughts by Radical Braille Advocates

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Guest Beneblog by Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager, Benetech’s Global Literacy Program. I recently had the honor to speak at the first-ever Braille Summit, hosted on June 19-21, 2013 by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and Perkins School for the Blind. With the goal of promoting braille literacy, this landmark meeting brought together braille experts from around the world to Perkins’ campus in Watertown, Massachusetts.

My biggest takeaway from the summit: the time could not be more urgent, and more hopeful, for the future of braille and the prospects of those who need it. That’s why braille is an important focus for us in Benetech’s Global Literacy Program — we know that we must keep braille relevant and make it more available.

One of the biggest reasons is that among people who are blind, braille literacy has been linked with higher education levels, higher likelihood of employment and higher income. Accordingly, U.S. federal law suppor…