Benetech

Rating: 4.77 stars   13 reviews

Issues: Health

Location: 480 S California Ave Ste 201 Palo Alto CA 94306 USA

Mission: Benetech develops innovative and effective technology applications for unmet social needs.
Results: * Human Rights: Our Martus software has been downloaded by thousands of users from 60+ countries. Collectively, the Martus user community has secured hundreds of thousands of narrative accounts of human rights violations (that we know of). Our Human Rights Field Team has trained hundreds of groups and individuals, in over 40 countries, on how to use Martus to help capture these stories and, more broadly, on information management, digital safety and documentation best practices. See more at: http://benetech.org/our-programs/human-rights/impact-case-studies/. * Global Literacy: Bookshare.org is the world's largest accessible digital library for people with print disabilities with over 215,000 books. Bookshare currently serves more than 250,000 members and is rapidly increasing the number of schools and students who depend on the library for accessible books and periodicals. See more at: http://benetech.org/our-programs/literacy/impact-case-studies/. * Miradi currently has thousands of users in over 170 countries. It’s technology that’s helping environmental practitioner teams achieve their conservation goals in real time. See more at: http://benetech.org/our-programs/environment/impact-case-studies/.
Target demographics: address unmet social needs in areas where technology could provide great benefit but isn’t pursued because it won’t generate big profits.
Direct beneficiaries per year: over 250,000 people around the world
Geographic areas served: Worldwide
Programs: 1. Human Rights: providing software, services and training that keep human rights defenders safe and have become critically important in larger efforts to pursue reform, seek justice and begin the process of reconciliation. See Martus.org. 2. Global Literacy: serving populations with unmet needs, such as people with disabilities, through technology-based literacy solutions, while also catalyzing systemic change so those tools are no longer needed tomorrow. Initiatives include Bookshare.org; DiagramCenter.org; BornAccessible.org; Route66Literacy.org. 3. Environment: providing conservationists with the tools they need to plan and manage their efforts to protect natural resources around the globe. See Miradi.org. 4. Benetech Labs: A space to explore new project ideas and to identify which of these potential technology solutions could successfully meet a pressing social need. See http://benetech.org/our-programs/benetech-labs/.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

Bookshare has been invaluable in providing access for me to Braille books. My life has been made richer and more satisfying because of their work, and I will always be grateful for the good that they have accomplished.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

For many years I have been a volunteer for Bookshare.org, a subsidiary of Benetech.org. Boookshare.org. provides access to books, newspapers and magazines to people who are unable to read print material due to blindess, dyslexia or physical problems that makes holding something to read impossible; volunteers scan books or proofread scans of books and then submit their work to bookshare, which converts the end product into accessible formats, e.g., Braille, Daisy, et al -- the formats made possible by benetech.org. I highly recommend bookshare.org as a fun and useful volunteer effort for any retiree (such as I) or any one with a little spare time who feels comfortable using a computer to read and proofread books; an advantage is that your volunteer work can be done from your home at anytime of day or night that is convenient for you. Go to bookshare.org to see how to become a volunteer
Also, I recommend that anyone who cannot read print go to the bookshare.org site and see how to become a member and benefit from the organization

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

This non profit exceeds our expectations. Benetech and staff work on issues from digital book access which allows our son to read into the night and at school, to human rights issues around the globe. The staff is dedicated to consistent improvement and does tremendous legislative work to better the lives of the individuals it serves. The deeper you dig into the workings of this non profit the more impressed you will be.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Publicize this service more....it should be on everyones radar!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Bookshare has been instrumental in helping my son obtain books that he can read or have read to him. He is Dyslexic and reads slower, skips words, and changes words when reading. Bookshare has helped him enjoy many books that he would not have read. Thank you for all you do! You are a true blessing!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unlikely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

Benetech through their Bookshare program makes hundreds of thousands of books available in formats that blind, visually impaired and dyslexic students can access in order to read and learn. These books are also available to other blind people to read for pleasure. Having access to one's nation's literature opens you up to your own culture. People who can read the latest books, are connected to everyone else reading and enjoying that same book. This is so important for children so they do not become isolated from other children in school who have the latest blockbuster book (like the Harry Potter series) to read and they don't have an accessible version. Bookshare is free for those with disabilities, which is so immensely helpful, giving them a level playing field with those who get to go to the library or book store to buy regular books. Benetech will spread this technology and service all around the world so that other print-disabled people will have access to books as well. This will open up countless opportunities for millions of people globally; the ripple effect of this wonderful humanitarian gesture cannot be adequately measured.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

See if there was a way to help promote this project so that even more print-disabled people were aware of it and could benefit from Benetech and Bookshare. Create key relationships between Benetech and large international foundations, like Gates, in order to get this into as many countries as possible.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Bookshare is an incredible organization that provides hundreds of thousands of accessible books to individuals with print disabilities. I have seen so many people benefit from the service this organization provides. My son is a high school senior with severe dyslexia. He receives all of his textbooks from Bookshare which gives him equal access and allows him to participate fully in classes along side his non-disabled peer. I also have relatives who are blind who benefit from Bookshare. Bookshare books have many features that are valuable to people with print disabilities. For sighted users, the text is highlighted while being read aloud, so the reader can follow along. This allows for greater retention for many users who benefit from seeing the text. The pace of the reading can also be increased or decreased to accommodate different readers and reading ability.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find ways to make it more known to educators and parents who are in a position of introducing its services to students who could benefit.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 4 stars  

Benetech's mission is "Technology Serving Humanity". This organization has several global outreach programs. The Bookshare online accessible library (eBooks and textbooks) supports tens of thousands of U.S. students with qualified print disabilities to get their books on time to study alongside their peers. Equal access to learning and opportunities to feel independent empower many children who, otherwise, would be lost. Good job!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

collaborating utilization, outreach and awareness and promoting good works results.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Include real-time telephone customer service.

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Rating: 4 stars  

I'm a quadriplegic due to neuromuscular disease, and a user of and volunteer for BookShare.

You can't imagine how happy I was to learn about Bookshare several years ago. I'd always been an avid reader, but the progression of my neuromuscular disease to my arms made reading difficult. A book stand helped for a while, but finally I had to ask others to turn pages for me. It became a burden to my family and caregivers to constantly drop what they were doing to turn a page, so I began seeking out ebooks. Few were available at that time, and I had trouble with the ones that were; they'd often be in a format that didn't work and play well with my voice recognition software.

Suddenly I had thousands upon thousands of books available to me, at a price I could afford, in a format I could read independently. And the best part? I could request books not already in the collection, and sometimes my wish would be granted. I began a reading binge that lasted a couple of years. Many were books I already had on my shelves, gathering dust because I couldn't pick them up.

Eventually I heard the call for volunteers, and decided to help BookShare clear out their queue of scanned books waiting to be proofread. Optical character recognition can only do so much; the software is thrown for a loop by everything from decorative fonts to images and completely flummoxed by columns, pull quotes, and tables. I vowed to bring each book that passed through my metaphorical hands up to the standard that a student writing a term paper would need, which is sometimes dry detailed work. (Oh, the war stories I could share of proofreading Mutual Funds for Dummies.) But I truly enjoy carefully reading a book, correcting any mistakes I see, as it gives me the opportunity to learn in depth about a subject I may never have given much thought to before.

The next step for Bookshare will be to expand their membership and volunteer pool, while developing their own ebook application so that all can enjoy a good book.

To paraphrase literary hero Miles Vorkosigan, access to books must never be abridged!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

-

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make sure their new ebook application for the iPad is accessible by voice controls

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Rating: 5 stars  

We are members and volunteers for Bookshare and laud Benetech for all they do on a grass roots effort to change the way we mobilize change. Bookshare allows my family to read digital books and add new titles to the ever growing collection. It is a privilege to be associated with such a wonderful organization that promotes accessible reading and literacy!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

For the first time in years I can read without pain. I see the joy in my daughter's eyes in finally being able to read independently. My husband and I can make a difference by helping scan and proofread new titles to add to the collection.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I am always trying to find new ways to promote awareness and find new ways to improve the quality of the digital books in the collection.

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Rating: 5 stars  

20 people found this review helpful

I joined Bookshare in October, 2007, and have really enjoyed it. There are a number of books unavailable through the National Library Service, (NLS), and, even when they are available there, it is wonderful to be able to read books immediately, since they’re never out due to circulation to others, and there is no necessity to wait until they can be sent from a previously prepared list. The NLS reader advisors do a superb job, but since they are working with a limited number of physical books, there is often a waiting period before one can read a specific book. Especially in the case of previously read books that just seem to beckon to one for another look, the mood to read them has usually passed by the time they arrive. Since one can download books as they’re wanted, it is easier to read books in a series in sequence, too. The diversity of titles is also astounding. One can find several books on almost any subject. If a specific title in any of those subjects isn’t available, a wish list exists, and, chances are someone will find it and submit it. There is appropriate material for all ages. Furthermore, Bookshare’s policy of rating material protects children and young readers from gaining access to adult books. However, my favorite thing about this organization is the fact that I can contribute to it as well as take from it. To me, one of the greatest pleasures I can experience is to share books I really like with others. While there is already a large collection available on the site, I still have more books I want to contribute than there is time to do it in!

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

volunteering.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-1-01

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