Benetech’s work is made possible because of a community of amazing partners who support our efforts. One way in which our programmatic partners help us amplify the impact of our work is by making in-kind donations that we customize and deploy to our users. I’m delighted to share here how we’re able to improve the lives of people, at home and abroad, with support from the Android donation program—a fantastic social initiative from Google.
To date, we’ve received several hundred used, fully functional Android phones and tablets from the program for deployment across our Human Rights and Global Literacy programs. Thanks to these phones, we’re able to put our software-for-good applications directly in the hands of individuals who face difficult challenges and for whom the availability of such devices makes a big difference.
In our Human Rights Program, we’ve extended a first batch of donated Android phones to several of our partner groups working to promote LGBTI rights in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia—where sexual minorities face grave violence and discrimination—and to partners advancing human rights in Burma. These human rights groups are using Martus—our free, open source, secure human rights information management tool—to document ongoing abuse in their communities. On the phones we received from Google, we uploaded Mobile Martus—our newly developed Martus application for Android OS. Members of our Human Rights Field Team used these phones to demo Mobile Martus during recent capacity building training visits with our partners and then handed them out.
Consider what it means for these human rights practitioners in Sub-Saharan Africa—who have limited access to technology and who are subject to ongoing state-sponsored harassment—to have mobile phones equipped with Martus. They can now use Mobile Martus (in combination with other features on the phones, like audio, video and image recording apps) to securely collect on-the-ground, first-hand accounts of violations against LGBTI individuals in their communities. They can securely send text, photo, audio or video files to the Martus servers and can be sure that even if their phones are confiscated or stolen, the encrypted information is protected and recoverable. Implementing Martus in this way, these human rights defenders are significantly improving their digital security and enhancing their advocacy work.
In Global Literacy, we extended an initial batch of donated Android phones to members of our Bookshare community, particularly Bookshare Mentors—educators who train fellow teachers, students with print disabilities and their parents on using Bookshare and assistive technology. The recipients of the donated phones are Mentors based at large U.S. urban and rural school districts with high percentage of low-income students, where we provide professional development trainings. These phones now enable our Mentors to bring on-the-go accessible books to students with print disabilities—such as those with visual impairments or learning disabilities, like dyslexia—in some of the nation’s most underprivileged areas, who otherwise would not have that experience.
We’re now looking forward to deploying a more recent donation, of 425 Google Nexus 7 tablets, to students with print disabilities in India. The tablets will allow us to provide these students with accessible books at their fingertips—part of our Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Commitment to increase service and expand the number of accessible books for the blind in India through our Bookshare International initiative.
All the Android devices were donated by Google as part of an ongoing effort to support organizations like Benetech that are using technology to benefit underprivileged people around the world.
Thank you Google!