50th Anniversary Award



Bookshare: a globally accessible library for people with reading barriers

Project location: Global
Organisation located: United States of America

Empowering people who are unable to read standard print by scaling the global accessible library from a current reach of over 650,000 people in over 85 countries reading 700,000 book titles in accessible formats such as braille, audio, highlighted text and large-font text, totaling millions of reading choices.

Addressing the social need

Literacy has the power to transform educational opportunities and employment options, helping people to overcome enormous barriers. UNESCO has reported that if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. Furthermore, an estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, with 90 per cent of these people living in developing countries. People that read and learn differently due to reading barriers such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or mobility impairments have substantially reduced opportunities to read, learn, and access information.

Benetech created and runs Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible ebook library, creating accessible books at a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches. The Bookshare collection has over 700,000 titles and supports content in over 40 different languages. Users can customize their experience and read in ways that work for them with ebooks in audio, audio plus highlighted text, braille, large font and other formats.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

The next generation of Remarkable™: a thriving global disability tech market

Project location: Global 
Organisation located: Australia

To support inclusion through global expansion of Remarkable™; a disability tech accelerator program that supports early stage start-ups working on products that promote inclusion and help them to become investment-ready social enterprises. 

Addressing the social need

According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 15 per cent of people in the world have some form of disability and remain marginalised due to lack of inclusive access to education, jobs, healthcare, and transport. While digital technology holds great potential to change the lives of people with disability and reduce barriers, it has so far not achieved its promise. Many technology products have not been built to include people with disability and may even create digital barriers for people with disability.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance aims to support inclusion through the next generation of Remarkable™; a disability tech accelerator program that supports early stage start-ups working on products that promote inclusion and help them to become investment-ready social enterprises.

FREO2 University of Melbourne

Saving the lives of children with pneumonia

Project location: Sub-Saharan Africa
Organisation located: Australia 

Saving the lives of children with pneumonia in remote areas of Africa through the deployment of technology that affordably produces, stores and distributes medical grade oxygen without the need of electricity. 

Addressing the social need

Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide, accounting for 16 per cent of all deaths of children under age five. Oxygen is critical for patients with severe pneumonia because having low blood oxygen levels increases a patient’s chances of dying.

The FREO2 invention is an initiative by the University of Melbourne that produces, stores, and distributes medical oxygen using technology that does not require electricity to run. The oxygen supply is capable of being powered by any renewable energy source and is provided at an affordable price. 

As electricity supply in many rural areas is unreliable, FREO2's medical oxygen enables children residing in these areas to be treated for pneumonia without having to rely on electricity. The organisation has already helped save the life of a baby in Uganda who was the first child to receive oxygen generated without relying on electricity. The FREO2 organisation has a focus on creating, testing, and deploying new technologies to help reduce inequalities in health access.

Girl Effect

Educating girls in India through a transformational mobile platform

Project location: South Asia
Organisation located: United Kingdom  

Educating, inspiring and mobilising vulnerable adolescent girls in India to transform their future prospects through a mobile technology platform featuring informative and engaging content, conversation and services.

Addressing the social need

India was named the world's most dangerous place to be a woman in 2018. Women in India often lack crucial information about their sexual and reproductive health and labour force participation is low. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of educated women are not progressing into employment. 

Girl Effect develops youth brands and mobile platforms in contexts where girls are marginalised and vulnerable.

Human Rights Watch

Powering human rights through technology: a tech incubator

Project location: Global 
Organisation located: United States of America

Powering human rights through the 20/20 incubator laboratory that deploys advanced technology to uncover human rights violations and protect women, children, and others in volatile locations such as Syria and Myanmar. 

Image credit: © 2017 Anastasia Taylor-Lind for Human Rights Watch

Addressing the social need

Large-scale human rights and humanitarian crises endanger millions of people around the world, especially those from marginalised communities. In 2017, an estimated 420 million children — more than 1 in 6 worldwide — lived in a conflict zone, a 50 percent increase from the 1990s. The physical dangers posed by these crises, as well as government repression and fear of reprisals, make it difficult to safely conduct on-the-ground investigations to gather facts, identify root causes, and pursue justice for those responsible. 

By providing early warnings of human rights violations and real-time responses to crises, Human Rights Watch seeks to improve protections and enable all people to live free from fear and with dignity. 

LV Prasad Eye Institute

Strengthening comprehensive eye health services for children in India

Project location: India
Organisation located: India 

Eye care services to hundreds of thousands of children in India and other developing countries through enhancement of the Child Sight Institute, including new centres and paediatric team training.

Addressing the social need

Precise data on child blindness is limited, but in 2018 there were over 1.4 million children worldwide blind from eye conditions, with many more suffering from vision impairment. More than half of blind children live in countries classified by the World Bank as lower-middle income, and 20-25 per cent live in India. Vision loss in children is associated with loss of access to education and depression, however, childhood blindness is preventable or treatable in at least 50 per cent of cases.

L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is a centre of excellence in eye care services with a focus on extending equitable and efficient eye care to underserved populations through an integrated system of eye care from primary to advanced tertiary levels. 

The LVPEI network of eye care centres examines 250,000-300,000 children per year and provide necessary treatment.

Royal Far West

Delivering developmental and mental health services to Australia’s country kids

Project location: Australia
Organisation located: Australia

Providing children, families and teachers living in rural and remote Australian communities with health, education and disability services through a combination of residential, remote (via technology) and in-community programs.

Addressing the social need

There is a growing need for psychology interventions in children and with over 300,000 children living in rural and remote areas of Australia, many lack the developmental and mental health support they need. People living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia experience poorer access to assistance for physical and mental health problems than their metropolitan counterparts. 

The physical, emotional and social development attained in childhood often leads to long term outcomes in health, education and well-being. Delays or vulnerabilities are linked with poor educational outcomes, disability, mental health problems and a higher risk of unemployment, contact with the criminal justice system, and homelessness. 

Royal Far West helps rural children, families, and educators to understand and respond to developmental challenges, mental health, intellectual disability, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and trauma.