What happens when technology can do great things for humanity, but doesn't make a lot of money? Technology and social entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman explores the social good 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
I am incredibly excited to let you know that earlier this month we announced that Betsy Beaumon , Benetech’s current president, will be taking over as CEO of Benetech. Betsy is a recognized social entrepreneur who has dedicated much of her career to changing the world with software. Our board and I are looking forward to Betsy leading Benetech to even greater impact. Under Betsy’s guidance, Benetech is developing new software for social good enterprises to connect communities with inclusive technology: Service Net: Reshaping the social safety net in human services to better connect people to the services they need. Born Accessible: Working with publishers to ensure that any new ebook is accessible to people who read differently - with the goal of one day making Bookshare obsolete. Connected Civil Society: Applying machine learning and computer vision to document human rights violations and promote accountability in Syria in collaboration with the UN. Data for Inclusion:
On February 16th in Los Altos, California, I shared these thoughts on Robin Seaman’s impact on the world with her family and friends at her Celebration of Life. Robin was beloved by the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had the honor of coming into direct contact with her. That's the Robin we all collectively know personally. The sister, the aunt, the friend, the mentor. The shining bright spot in our day. A woman with that ineffable quality of elegance. However, I'm here to spotlight the impact Robin had on millions of people who never had the pleasure of meeting her personally. You all might have heard something about Robin’s dedication to helping people with disabilities that affect reading. People with disabilities like blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, physical limitations and returning vets with brain injuries -- anyone who cannot simply pick up a printed book and read it. The nonprofit Benetech team built the revolutionary Bookshare library for thi
I've been privileged to meet so many awesome social entrepreneurs around the world, doing fabulous work without much recognition (and often, even less funding). Jamila Hassoune is one of those social entrepreneurs, and we share a love for books and the power of access to books. We've been in touch for almost fifteen years, and I met her in person in 2014 when I was attending the diplomatic conference that resulted in the Treaty of Marrakesh. She's known as the Librarian of Marrakesh, in recognition of her dedication to books and her role as Morocco's first woman bookseller. She leads Book Caravans into Morocco's rural regions to share knowledge, books and history with students and women. She just sent me the announcement of her new Book Caravan: The 13th book caravan Under the theme: The valorization of our heritage is a responsibility of our present and our future. Jamila Hassoune is pleased to announce the 13th Edition of the book caravan from