Students with Visual and Learning Disabilities Thrive with Accessible Audiobooks from Learning Ally

Little boy listening to one of Learning Ally's audio books on a CD
By Guest Blogger Doug Sprei, Director of Media Relations, Learning Ally

For students who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical or learning disability, Learning Ally provides the nation’s largest online accessible audio library of core curriculum textbooks and literature, helping them achieve academic success and prepare for the workplace.

Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind (RFB), the organization’s original mission was to enable blinded World War II Veterans to attend college. Over time, RFB grew to serve people with learning differences such as dyslexia, and in the mid 1990s, was renamed Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D).

In 2011, RFB&D was transformed into Learning Ally, reflecting its mission to serve a complete spectrum of individuals for whom reading is a barrier to learning. Currently, Learning Ally serves more than 200,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as Veterans and working professionals. 75 percent of its members have a learning disability, such as dyslexia.

Produced in high-quality digital format, Learning Ally audiobooks can be accessed on mainstream devices like the Apple iPad and iPhone, as well as MP3 players, Mac and PC computers and CDs. More than 6,000 volunteers nationwide help record and process the books, and thousands of new titles are added annually. Currently, the collection of more than 69,000 textbooks and literature spans most major publishers and offers reading material for K-12 through post-graduate school.

By providing state of the art, accessible audio textbooksto students, Learning Ally removes a major obstacle to their success in the classroom: access to the printed word. The books provide extensive navigation, bookmarking and control features that are critical to successful studying.  Students tap into the general education curriculum and stay on top of assignments in step with their peers. Countless educators and parents point to Learning Ally as a proven resource that relieves stress and saves time for students facing an overwhelming amount of reading and studying material, adding that young learners build confidence and self-esteem as their comprehension, performance and grades improve. 

Students with a certified print disability are eligible for an Individual Membershipat an affordable rate, allowing them to work on assignments at home as a supplement to their school’s membership. Institutional Memberships are available for schools and districts to provide accommodations for their students with IEP and 504 plans. Such programs can include memberships, equipment, training and support.

Most recently, Learning Ally has expanded into custom projects, creating accessible content to meet the needs of a wide range of commercial clients and public sector organizations.In addition to offering top quality accessible digital audio media, our custom projects team provides solutions in braille, large print and electronic text. They are also experienced in consultative services and creating accessible information to fit needs and applications meeting 504 and 508 requirements.

We feature the latest digital audio software and mastering equipment, backed up by more than 150 voice recording stations in 20 studios located across the country, and have thousands of experienced narrators. Our trained narration teams have professional expertise in more than 90 specialized subject areas and more than 50  foreign languages.  Examples of some of the materials we convert include:

  • educational materials
  • standardized testing
  • instructional and marketing materials
  • annual reports, legal documents, menus
  • foreign languages
  • scientific and mathematical notation
  • creation of narratives for graphs, charts and pictures

In short, Learning Allyhas experienced and extensive audio recording resources along with  subject matter experts enabling us to address the most complex and challenging educational materials. Our list of clients is expansive and includes McGraw Hill, Pearson, Samsung, The Museum of the City of New York, the states of Texas, Ohio and Oregon; Kaiser Permanente, Virginia Tech and Weight Watchers. Drawing upon our 60-plus year history of serving individuals with learning differences and reading disabilities, we are the nation’s leader in the design and creation of accessible content.

For information regarding custom project services, contact John Churchill at (732) 551-1589 or Bernice Shapiro at (240) 778-5769.  Visit http://learningally.org/ for more information.

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