What happens when technology can do great things for humanity, but doesn't make a lot of money? Jim Fruchterman explores the social entrepreneurship side of technology applications: how to get great tech tools to the people who often need them the most, but are least able to afford them!
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Why Your Country Should Ratify the Marrakesh Treaty
Access to information and knowledge is
a basic human right and a necessary first step towards personal, economic, and social development. Yet around the world, over 100 million individuals are denied this basic right. They include people who are blind, visually impaired, have dyslexia, or have a physical disability that prevents them from reading regular printed books. The good news is that there are now unprecedented
opportunities to transform the lives of these millions by removing barriers of
access to information —and this is where you can help.
Chief negotiator Justin Hughes and the
U.S. delegation signing the treaty.
As the nonprofit operator of Bookshare,the world’s largest online library for people who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic, or have a physical disability that prevents them from reading books, Benetechstrongly recommends the ratification
of the Marrakesh Treaty.
Here’s why the Marrakesh Treaty is so
important and why your country can help ensure it benefits the millions who
What Does the Marrakesh Treaty Do?
The World Blind Union's Right to Read Campaign estimates that less than ten percent of all books published are available in accessible formats such as braille, large print, and audio talking books. The Marrakesh Treaty makes it
easier for nonprofits, schools, government agencies, and individuals with
disabilities to convert inaccessible print books into accessible equivalents.
It does so by making it legal under copyright to create accessible books
without needing to seek permission or (in most countries) paying a royalty. It
also allows for the import and export of such accessible books across
How Does the Treaty Help My
remedies the book famine faced by people who are blind or have another
disability that prevents them from reading books, improving their access to
education, employment, and social inclusion.
supports international human rights treaty commitments, especially the UN
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
supports the Sustainable Development Goals, which mention inclusiveness
repeatedly, especially in the context of education.
the primary successful example of the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization
Development Agenda, and will lay the groundwork for more advances in the
supports domestic human and civil rights laws around access to information and
greatly lowers the cost of providing accessible books by both easing domestic
efforts as well as by opening up existing accessible book collections in other
countries (either regionally or large worldwide English libraries, such
as Bookshare’s collection of 375,000+ titles).
helps hasten the development of a domestic electronic book industry in your
country, since ebooks are one core format for providing accessible books.
politically popular. Helping people with disabilities gain access to education
and books is a cause everyone can identify with. Most people know someone who
might benefit from books that talk.
publishing industry has come out in favor of the treaty.
How You Can Help
Benetech is happy to support the World
Blind Union in its campaign for the Marrakesh Treaty ratification and
implementation. Check out the World Blind Union’s resources for getting
involved with efforts to advance the Treaty’s ratification in your country. We
also recommend that you coordinate with your national association of the blind
as you consider ratification. Please join us in ending the accessible book
famine facing the world’s blind population. Advocate for your country to ratify
Like many other leaders of nonprofit organizations, I travel an unreasonable fraction of the time. I recently hit three million lifetime miles on American Airlines. Not sure whether to celebrate or mourn this milestone.
Why do I do it? Why do my peers do it? We know that the carbon impact of all that travel is bad for the planet, and the personal impact of all that travel is bad on our bodies.
We travel because we think it’s the most effective way to spread social change. We travel because there is no substitute for human interaction. We travel because we need to raise money, and we won’t get it unless we get in front of the donors.
For the more senior social entrepreneurs, we can travel because we have leaders and teams that are usually better than we are at running the organizations we head and/or have founded. We travel because it‘s the best use of our time in finding the partnerships, insights, and the money our teams need to create more social change. Lastly, we travel to advoc…
Every once in a while, the Beneblog features something of personal importance to me.
I'm very excited (and proud) about an exciting concert coming up soon in Palo Alto. My daughter, Kate Fruchterman, will be returning briefly to the area the evening of June 17th to give a concert. Kate will be heading to Europe this fall to sing professionally in Italy for the Turin Opera Company, as the winner of one of three Opera Foundation Scholarships.
As I said at the Skoll World Forum this year after hearing Monica Yunus, the famous opera singer and daughter of leading social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, Kate is another proof point of the proposition that geeky social entrepreneur dads can have beautiful opera singer daughters.
But, there's more! The accomplished pianist Virginia Fruchterman (who I happen to be married to) will be the main accompanist at the concert at St. Mark's Church. In addition, Lauren Osaka, flautist, and Phil Kadet, the NYC-based jazz pianist and compos…
“Your secure software is open source: doesn’t that make it less secure?”
This is a recurring question that we get at Benetech about Martus—our free, strongly encrypted tool for secure collection and management of sensitive information, built and provided by the Benetech Human Rights Program. It’s an important question for us and for all of our peers developing secure software in today’s post-Snowden environment of fear and worry about surveillance. We strongly believe not only that open source is compatible with digital security, but that it’s also essential for it.
Let me explain with the following analogy:
Think of encryption as a locked combination safe for your data. You may be the only one who has the combination, or you may entrust it to select few close associates. The goal of a safe is to keep unauthorized people from gaining access to its content. They might be burglars attempting to steal valuable business information; employees trying to learn confidential salary informati…