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Rails Developer Needed to Serve Humanity

Palo Alto, CA | Engineering

Job Description

About Benetech:

Benetech is a nonprofit social enterprise that develops technology to address pressing social needs. Today we build software to address literacy, human rights and environmental conservation. We combine a social conscience with Silicon Valley's talent to develop technology that has a lasting impact on critical needs around the world. At Benetech, we embrace a social enterprise business model that measures our success not in dollars, but in the number of lives we change. We are a technology company where social benefit, not profit, is the bottom line.

Benetech was founded 20 years ago and has 60 employees, most of which work out of our Palo Alto headquarters on California Av. (walking distance from Caltrain and Stanford University).

Benetech’s flagship project, Bookshare (http://bookshare.org), opens new doors for people with visual and reading disabilities. Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible library of scanned books and periodicals. Bookshare offers more than 120,000 books in its online collection and gives people who can’t read traditional printed books, access to a dramatically expanded world of information. You can think of Bookshare as Amazon.com meets Napster, meets Talking Books for the Blind - but legal! This project is funded by the U.S Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to provide this service to all U.S. qualified students for free.


Benetech is seeking a Ruby on Rails developer on a contract/full-time basis. This project is an open source, web-based, crowd sourced image description application. The source code can be found at https://github.com/benetech/ImageDescService.This project is an initiative of the DIAGRAM Center (http://diagramcenter.org) to more effectively increase the availability of image descriptions in textbooks for print disabled students. This image description web service will enable authors/content creators, publishers, social enterprises, such as Bookshare, educators and volunteers to easily add, enhance, moderate and share image descriptions to e-books and digital textbooks in the DAISY 3, EPUB and HTML standards.

The work will involve adding new features, fixing bugs, and generally working with Benetech engineers and volunteer co-ordinators to enchance the application to meet the DIAGRAM goals.

This is a part-time, contract position for up to 80 hrs/month for three months.  The candidate is ideally able to meet at Benetech's headquarters in Palo Alto, CA on a frequent basis.

Please be sure to include a cover letter with your resume.  Also include links to work you have done and specify what specific challenges you undertook.


  • Minimum of six months experience developing Ruby on Rails applications.
  • Minimum of six months experience working with relational databases, particularly MySQL.
  • Familiarity with Git.
  • Familiarity with Amazon Web Services, especially S3 storage, is a plus.
  • Desire to work on open source projects and benefit humanity with your skills.


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