Showing posts from January, 2005
My next piece for BBC News was published today as their Davos Diary 'Enlightened self interest' . I was luck enough to be chosen as the Davos attendee asked to provide diary entries. My third and last one should be out early next week as a wrap up on my Davos experience. Here's the text of my piece from the article (looks nicer on the BBC site, though!). Davos diary: 'Enlightened self interest' By Jim Fruchterman President, The Benetech Initiative The tone of this Davos strikes me as more socially oriented than the past two. As a social entrepreneur attendee, I quite appreciate this. On Wednesday, the World Economic Forum tried an experiment of a town-hall meeting to find out what the top issues for the attendees were. The top three amazed me: fighting poverty, equitable globalisation and climate change. Each of these topics received votes from the majority of the attendees. Have I fallen into a den of liberal thinkers? T
My second day at the WEF, and I'm blogging on the WEF's site and writing my pieces for the BBC. Communications overload. Here's a link to my latest WEF blog, on the Social Investing session.
My first article for the BBC is already up: Davos diary: This is not about money. Be sure to give it a read!
I am heading off to Davos for my third World Economic Forum meeting. I have been tapped to write for the BBC website as well as a guest blogger for the Forum. So, expect my posts on the BeneBlog to be a little more frequent as I post these. Here's my first post: Packing up. I've inserted it below: Just packing my bags and getting ready to head Davos-ward. It's been a sunny warm day in California, and it takes a bit of thought to get ready for the snow. I will be attending for my third Forum as a social entrepreneur. My goals are to talk to people about the causes I am passionate about: literacy, access and human rights. As a Silicon Valley technology person, I especially want other leaders in the tech community to be thinking about what technology can do for the people who can least afford it. I am also representing my movement, the social entrepreneurs of the world who are busy coming up with new approaches to old problems, and filling the g
Disability technology is my major focus this week. BBC Radio 4 interviewed me about the international expansion possibilities of it's a 20 minute long segment about the desire to access a service in the UK. I spent the last two days at the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard meetings: the U.S. has just passed a law mandating this standard in education for students with disability. The law includes setting up a repository for publishers to deposit textbooks in electronic form. is on the NIMAS Development Committee, so Janice Carter and I were able to participate in some of the debates on how to implement this new standard. Good news: the books are essentially already compliant with this standard. Today and tomorrow are the ATIA 2005 Conference & Exhibition . This is probably the second biggest U.S. conference on assistive technology. All the big players are here, and it's whe
Great events at! We just hit 20,000 titles on our electronic book library for people with print disabilities. We are delivering more and more books that meet the literacy needs of our users, by providing the latest bestsellers, textbooks and daily newspapers into accessible form. Another great piece of news is that Janice Carter has joined Benetech as our Director of Literacy Programs, and is now general manager of Janice is an experienced executive from the media and technology industries, and I am quite excited to have a senior executive adding her perspective in our operations! Janice and I are heading out to Florida this week for the NIMAS meeting on the new national digital textbook repository and the ATIA disability technology conference . Should be a fun week, and important for moving access to books forward.
The end of the year is always exciting, and 2004 was no exception. One of our users, Jay Leventhal, contacted me about making a donation at the end of the year. Jay was particularly interested in making the search capabilities of better than our existing simple author or title searches. This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time: something more like the advanced search of Google or Amazon. In a rapid flurry of email, our engineering and teams came up with quick estimate of time and cost to implement such a feature and we ran it by Jay. Jay made the donation the last Friday of 2004 and we are already at work figuring out how to implement the feature over the next couple of months, which will benefit not only Jay but thousands of users. Funding engineering work is always our biggest challenge, because it is not typical philanthropy. We really appreciate funders who actively engage us both in funding e
I am happy to report that I met with the product manager for Google Print/Google Library and a couple of people from their accessibility team recently. They are very interested in understanding the access issues around their projects, and we'll be working on providing them with more information about possible solutions. While it's premature to discuss any commitments or solutions (and Google would need to consult with their content partners on any changes), I was pleased about the level of engagement I saw from the Google team. Feel free to circulate this to interested parties. I'm especially interested in assistive technology vendors weighing in with suggestions. I'm hoping to provide some initial thoughts on these issues to Google and the disability community soon.
Benetech's Patrick Ball was on National Public Radio's Morning Edition show today in a piece entitled Uncertainty the Rule in Gauging Deaths from Tsunami. Patrick's main point was that getting a precise number of those lost in the tsunami was less important than working on aiding the survivors. This contrasts with Patrick's work in political violence, where assessing the numbers and patterns of human rights violations is important for accountability. Like the rest of the world, we have been following the Asian disaster closely. Our staff are actively working in the region in Sri Lanka and East Timor, but on December 26th were not in harm's way. Our partner groups and friends in Sri Lanka have also fared well, to our relief. I was especially happy to hear from my friend Professor Weerakkody of the University of Peradeniya that he and his family were safe. He's a regional leader in adaptive technology for the blind and I have worked with him for more t