|Founded||1989, 2001 under Benetech name|
|Product||Software for social good|
Benetech is a nonprofit social enterprise organization that empowers communities with software for social good. Previous projects include the Route 66 Literacy Project, the Miradi environmental project management software, Martus (human rights abuse reporting), and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Current program areas include global education, human rights, and poverty alleviation.
A key education program initiative is Bookshare, the world's largest accessible ebook library for people with print disabilities. It contains over 720,000 ebooks and serves over 600,000 people worldwide with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, low vision, and physical disabilities. In the U.S., 35,000 U.S. schools and school districts use Bookshare to serve their students with reading barriers. Over 870 publishers send us their files to add titles to the Bookshare collection. Members can read books in a variety of formats—audio, audio+highlighted text, braille, large font, and Word—on tablets, smartphones, computers, Chromebooks, and other assistive technology devices. Bookshare is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (Award Number H327D170002).
Another project is Benetech Service Net, an open standards data exchange platform that makes it easier to share and maintain information on local social and human services. Organizations providing referrals or referral technology (such as 2-1-1s, Healthify, or Health Leads) and agencies providing information about their services (such as community-based shelters, food pantries, or government agencies) can work together to make better data available for everyone.
Benetech was founded by technology entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman in Palo Alto, California under the name of Arkenstone in 1989. It was initially created to provide reading machines for blind people. During the period 1989-2000, over 35,000 reading machines were sold in sixty countries, reading twelve different languages. In 2000, the Arkenstone reading machine product line was sold to Freedom Scientific, and the nonprofit's name was changed to Benetech. The funding from the asset sale was used to start the Bookshare initiative and Martus project in 2001.
In 2019, Benetch announced that it will be expanding its inclusive education initiatives, creating new partnerships with organisations such as Vision Australia, the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, Canada's Center for Equitable Library Access and the Dubai government.
- Kendrick, D: Interview in AccessWorld magazine "Fruchterman's Fantasy Becomes Reality". American Foundation for the Blind Press, November 2001.
- An original outside Martus funder was the Open Society Institute through Aspiration, a non-profit software technology assistance initiative created by then OSI Internet Program Director Jonathan Peizer. Martus was the first tool this initiative supported because of its unique focus on human rights tracking.
- Michels, Spencer (2011-03-25). "To Combat Human Rights Abuses, California Company Looks to Computer Code". pbs.org. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- Inc, Beneficent Technology (2019-05-16). "Benetech Announces Major International Expansion to Help End the Global Book Famine". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2019-08-06.