Benetech® CEO Jim Fruchterman has been presented with one of the first-ever Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in recognition of Benetech’s outstanding contribution to improving the lives of blind people in the United States. Benetech operates the Bookshare® service, which allows people with print disabilities to legally download books and periodicals to be read as Braille, large print or synthetic speech. The Dr. Jacob Bolotin award was presented to Jim Fruchterman on July 4th during the NFB annual convention in Dallas.
“Under Jim Fruchterman’s leadership, Bookshare has dramatically expanded the number of books and periodicals available to the blind,” said Gary Wunder, secretary of the National Federation of the Blind and chairman of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee. “By significantly enhancing access to informational and recreational reading for all blind Americans, Bookshare has made an outstanding contribution toward achieving the full integration of the blind into society on the basis of equality, and the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award recognizes this contribution.”
Bookshare offers nearly 40,000 digital books, newspapers and magazines and delivers them in the BRF Braille file format and the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) standard for Digital Talking Books. Bookshare also produces accessible textbooks from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).
“Our goal is to empower people with technology,” said Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman who accepted the award on behalf of the Bookshare community. “Bookshare is the first library for the blind that has been built by blind people. By providing a place on the Internet where our users can legally share scanned books, we’ve been witness to the incredible power unleashed when blind people choose the books they want to read and share books with each other.”
The first annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards were presented in 2008 by the National Federation of the Blind to individuals and organizations who have significantly improved the lives of blind Americans. The awards are named for Dr. Jacob W. Bolotin (1888-1924), a pioneering blind physician who lived and practiced in Chicago during the early part of the twentieth century and was an early advocate for the full inclusion of the blind in education, employment, and community life.
The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award program is funded by the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust. With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation’s blind. For more information about the National Federation of the Blind and the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards, visit www.nfb.org.
Bookshare is operated by Benetech, a Palo Alto CA-based nonprofit technology development organization. In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education to significantly expand the availability of accessible digital books and software for reading those books. Over the next five years, Bookshare expects to add over 100,000 new book titles and textbooks to its collection.