82,000 recorded audiobooks, that is. All are recorded by volunteer readers and are available through Learning Ally, the world’s largest provider of audio textbooks and literature. Michael Turner, the Regional Director of Community Development with Learning Ally as well as his colleague, Natasha Fortis, presented at HillTOPICS to share information about their programs.
Learning Ally’s offerings include both NY Times bestsellers as well as textbooks, instruction manuals, and classic novels. Even the newest Harry Potter book is available. Learning Ally audiobooks are easily downloaded and listened to on most devices and many of them also have text so that the listener can follow along with the print. The print is highlighted sentence by sentence during the audio playback.
Learning Ally also offers other programs, including YES! Youth Examples of Self-Advocacy, open to any student in Colorado and some other states as well. This student mentor program trains high school students with dyslexia to mentor their younger peers, helping them learn to self-advocate, use assistive technology, and providing emotional support.
Their explore1in5.org website is specifically geared to students and is available to anyone.
Scholarships specifically for students with learning differences who are entering college the following year are also available.
Besides individuals, Learning Ally offers school wide programs, webinars about dyslexia and related topics, author chats, teacher training, and more.
Learning Ally audiobooks are only available to people who have documented print disabilities, which includes dyslexia. Qualifying for membership requires submittal of documentation of a print-related disability and can easily be accomplished online. The current fee is $135 per year which provides access to their entire library. For someone who listens to audiobooks regularly, this is a significant savings over commercially available recordings.
Although Learning Ally originally began as Recording for the Blind, by the year 2000, more than 75% of their membership came from individuals with learning disabilities.