Commitment Will Increase Service, Expand Number of Accessible Books for the Blind in India through Bookshare International
Today, at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Benetech announced a Commitment to Action — the defining feature of CGI — to increase service and expand the number of accessible books for the blind in India through its Bookshare International initiative. CGI defines a Commitment to Action as a plan for addressing a significant global challenge and requires that the commitment be new, specific and measureable. Benetech will embark on this work with support from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind and Google.
“It is estimated that five to six million people in India are blind — a quarter of the blind people in the world — and these people face a severe lack of access to books they can read,” said Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO of Benetech. “Through this three-year Commitment to Action we expect to greatly improve access to books that the blind in India need for their education, employment and inclusion in society.”
To act on this commitment, Benetech has received a three-year, $350,000 grant from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind. Benetech will provide access to Bookshare, the world’s largest collection of digital accessible books, to 5,000 new users with print disabilities throughout India, with at least 1,500 of these being university students. Benetech will also add a minimum of 1,000 new titles to the Bookshare collection that directly address the needs of Indian users.
“We are excited to support Benetech in its work to expand Bookshare beyond the borders of the United States,” said Daniel Callahan, Board President, Lavelle Fund for the Blind. “Making Bookshare more available to blind people in India, and increasing the availability of the India-focused content they need, will have a tremendous impact on their everyday lives.”
Support from Google’s Androids for Good program will allow Benetech to distribute 425 Google Nexus 7 tablets with Android operating systems to Indian student users. Additionally, two India-based consultants will be hired to travel throughout the country and provide training on using Bookshare and other relevant technology.
Benetech was founded to be a different kind of tech company—a nonprofit—with a pure focus on developing technology for the social good. Benetech has four main program areas—Human Rights, Global Literacy, Environment and Benetech Labs—and focuses on projects that offer the greatest social return on the funds invested. Jim Fruchterman, social entrepreneur and MacArthur Fellow, founded Benetech in 1989 and leads the organization as its President & CEO. Benetech has over 70 employees, most of which work out of its headquarters in Silicon Valley. For more information, please visit Benetech.org.
Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech. Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. In 2007 and again in 2012, Bookshare received five-year awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 200,000 books and serves more than 250,000 members. To learn more about Bookshare, please visit bookshare.org.
About Lavelle Fund for the Blind
The Lavelle Fund supports programs that help people who are blind and visually impaired lead independent, productive lives, together with eye care programs working to prevent and treat vision loss. Programs in the Catholic tradition of serving the disadvantaged are of special interest. Most Fund support goes to organizations that serve the New York City metropolitan area or New York State. However, the Fund also funds programs benefiting the developing world. Both direct service and capacity-building support are concentrated on programs with records of achieving measurable impact on the population served. For more information, please visit LavelleFund.org.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.