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University of Connecticut Assistive Technology Oral History Project

Jim Fruchterman

Date: November 15, 2010

Jim presents quite a problem since he's done too much to summarize in a few paragraphs. Please start with his snippet which explains how he went from being a rocket scientist to a man who establishes companies that produce important products for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It also contains what he calls his one good idea in college.

If you want a comprehensive view of what Jim has accomplished you'll have to download the transcript where you'll learn about Arkenstone reading machines that he distributed via visually impaired independent dealers. At that time people with vision impairment were not being hired, but this group gave the product credibility and sales rocked to 5 million dollars a year.

The company discovered that 15% of the users were dyslexic. The product had only one feature that was perfect for someone with dyslexia. Everything else was wrong so they came up with a completely different version, a product called WYNN (What You Need Now).

In 2000 he sold the Arkenstone reading machine for the blind business and its name to Freedom Scientific  and he had $5 million to spend on new things and he renamed the non-profit Benetech. 

He had two big ideas he wanted to work on. The first was human rights and he's now the leading supplier of open source software for the human rights movement in the world.

The other idea came from his 14 year old son Jimmy. You'll read how discovering Napster led to a Bookshare  grant that's made Bookshare free for students with a print disability in the United States and now serves more that 100,000 students a year.

And there is much more in the transcript!

Snippet 1: "Tell us how you entered the disability field."


Download: Full Transcript