Beneficent Technology Inc

Rating: 4.77 stars   13 reviews

Nonprofit Issues:

Education, Human Services, International


480 S California Ave Suite 201 Palo Alto CA 94306 USA


Benetech develops innovative and effective technology applications for unmet social needs.


* Global Literacy: is the world's largest accessible digital library of copyrighted materials for people with print disabilities. As of January 2015, Bookshare serves more than 330,000 members with a collection of over 320,000 accessible ebooks. See more at: * 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:

Target demographics:

people with disabilities; human rights actors, journalists, and civil society organizations; environmental professionals; and social enterprises.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

more than 330,000 members with print disabilities and learning differences (the majority of whom are U.S. students); human rights activists and groups around the world.

Geographic areas served:



• Benetech’s Global Literacy Program: extends technology tools and services that provide access to information for people who have disabilities that prevent them from using standard print, such as those with visual impairments, like blindness; learning differences, like dyslexia; or physical disabilities, like cerebral palsy. • Benetech’s Human Rights Program: provides secure, open information management and data collection technology for rights defenders, activists, journalists, and civil society practitioners. • Benetech’s Environment Program: explores technology solutions to help communities address sustainability challenges. • Benetech Labs: develops new product ideas for social enterprise technology applications .

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Reviews for Beneficent Technology Inc

Rating: 5 stars  

For many years I have been a volunteer for, a subsidiary of 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 I highly recommend 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 to see how to become a volunteer
Also, I recommend that anyone who cannot read print go to the site and see how to become a member and benefit from the organization

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Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

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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...


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Rating: 4 stars  

19 people found this review helpful

I first visited Bookshare’s website (which makes digital books accessible to people with disabilities) in 2003 to locate a book which I was unable to find anywhere else. Since then, my husband Larry and I (who are both totally blind) have accumulated a large library which we either save to our computer or to a portable device, enabling us to read books not only at home but on the go as well. We both also enjoy adding books to Bookshare’s collection – Larry scans them with our Optibook 3600 scanner, while I correct scanning errors (to the best of my ability, sometimes a tedious task) before adding them to the library. Joining Bookshare has enabled us to read not only familiar authors but to acquaint ourselves with new authors whose works we have never experienced before. No matter how many books we submit, we both receive such pleasure when we receive the email notice that our book has joined the other books to explore. Though there are several sources from which we can obtain books, often Bookshare is the first organization to make them available. Over the last five years, we have also made several friends and assisted volunteers in learning the process required to submit their books to Bookshare. The collection is diverse and has provided us many hours of wonderful and informative reading!

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

Adding books to the collection

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