5 Backers Of Technological Innovation And Accessibility

William Gibson, the novelist who coined the term cyberspace, once said that the future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed. Indeed, while some people get to enjoy the latest and greatest that computers have to offer, others are being left behind, without the tools needed to succeed in the contemporary world. Fortunately, there are groups that are working to change this. In no particular order, here are some organizations making tech more available throughout the nation.

#1 in our overview is PCs for People. This non-profit organization intercepts usable, discarded computers before they reach landfills, and refurbishes them for distribution to low-income individuals, schools, and nonprofits. In addition, the group provides a certified secure e-waste recycling service to businesses.

PCs for People makes use of volunteers from places including Barrel Theory Beer Company, AmeriCorps, Wells Fargo, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and Xcel Energy. The volunteers help process monitors, clean computers, destroy data, and sort thousands of pounds of electronic waste. The organization also provides work training and internship opportunities to adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Coming in at #2 is Benetech, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, California that works to empower communities with software for social good. The group's creations are designed to improve how people with disabilities read and learn; make it safer for human rights defenders to pursue truth and justice; and connect those in need to the services that will help them prosper.

Benetech's education tools aim to make information more accessible. Examples include Mathshare, a math program fit for a variety of learning styles, and Bookshare, an app that teaches reading with a library of e-books. To aid activists, Benetech offers Martus, which encrypts and organizes data. To help conservationists, the group created Miradi, an adaptive project management platform.

The list continues with our #3 entry, Mass Technology Leadership Council, a network for companies and entrepreneurs seeking industry connections. The association creates educational podcasts and videos, and hosts conferences, forums, and special events as a way to unite people in the tech field.

The Lexington-based MassTLC connects tech decision-makers, academics, and policymakers, who can then work together on research, knowledge sharing, leadership, recruitment initiatives, talent development, and advocacy. The network's members are invited to share their expertise with the community. For instance, Tech Runs Boston brings together established leaders and young professionals to foster collaboration around ideas and best practices.

At #4 is The Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, which provides services to support the dissemination of technological insights from research institutions to companies and investors based in the Commonwealth. The Center assists with the validation of markets for new discoveries, and supports the development of commercialization plans.

MTTC can also help institutions with advice on ascertaining viability and value, exploiting potential markets, and tackling licensing strategies and intellectual property issues. In addition, the organization shares news about its members so that people involved in the industry in the Commonwealth and in the surrounding region can stay up to date.

Rounding out the list at #5 is Tech Impact. Founded with the help of Microsoft, it strives to empower communities and nonprofits to make smart decisions about technology. The group offers a suite of educational materials for workforce development, including assessments, training courses, whitepapers, guides, and webinars. An example is the ITWorks program, which helps young urban adults compete for entry-level information technology positions.

The organization also supplies nonprofits with computer, data system, project management, hosted Voice Over IP, app development, and strategic planning support. Tech Impact serves as a helpdesk, assists with migrating to Office 365, makes suggestions about selecting new database and building dashboards, and ensures that its clients receive available software discounts.