What Drives Us
We believe all students should have equal opportunities to learn and succeed.
There’s a reason why we’re so passionate about literacy. After all, it is the foundation of learning. But a lot of students never stand a chance. 65% of fourth graders read below proficiency and are 400% more likely to drop-out of high school. And, for most at risk students (students of color, low income, English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities) the problem is even more acute.
Learning Ally seeks to break this cycle. With early student assessment, intervention and accommodations, we can identify and can help prevent learning issues and work with schools and educators to support new and struggling readers. Thus, building a strong foundation for independent, engaged learners who are empowered to achieve socially, emotionally and academically, regardless of background or learning difference.
A Tradition of Serving those with Learning Differences
It all began with Anne T MacDonald, who in 1948 formed Recording for the Blind, to help soldiers who lost their sight in combat, continue their education, by recording textbooks on vinyl phonograph disks. In time, the service focused on students with learning differences, such as dyslexia. With extensive research, we expanded our offerings in order to help these students achieve their fullest potential. In 2011, the organization changed its name to Learning Ally, to better reflect our purpose and role in the education landscape. With our history and expertise, Learning Ally’s influence and impact now extends to nearly a half million students with learning differences, in schools and households around the country.
Innovation to Empower Educators
Championing a student centered approach, we transitioned from a library of human-read audiobooks to a mobile app and comprehensive solution, designed to surround struggling students with support and help educators and parents deliver student outcomes. Our solution touts all popular literature along with all the classics, textbooks and books for required reading. Additionally, we provide programming to help motivate students, a dashboard to monitor student progress and Professional Learning modules, including our Spotlight on Dyslexia Conference, to provide educators with all the support and training they need to be dynamic leaders in literacy.
Neuroscience Guides Focus on Early Literacy
With a continued commitment to supporting students who learn differently, Learning Ally leadership has joined researchers and neuroscientists from renowned institutions including UCSF and MIT, to better understand and address learning issues. Our enhanced understanding of brain development and neuroplasticity has guided our most recent initiatives recognizing the importance of early assessment and intervention. Learning Ally is proud to deliver significant developments to help children, parents and educators, with support, programs and accommodations to address the period of early childhood.
The Square Panda Literacy System is an award-winning, phonics-based, supplemental, early literacy program, that helps PreK-1st grade teachers manage students with diverse reading readiness. It offers a multisensory adaptive learning environment that can help prevent reading proficiency gaps before they even happen!
With UCSF’s newly developed digital app, APPRISE, Learning Ally will help bring neuroscience advancements to schools. This groundbreaking assessment app measures 15 key areas of learning to determine literacy readiness for students in PreK-1st grade. Results will be analyzed into profiles and educators will be provided with instruction and professional learning to respond to how each child learns best. We’re piloting this in schools in California in 2021, so that we can deliver it across the country by the following year.
To complete our early literacy offerings, Learning Ally is developing an audiobooks solution, specifically for early readers. This solution is designed to expose early readers to language and vocabulary, so that they can begin to develop key literacy skills as well as a better understanding of the world around them. With human narrated, high quality recordings, there will be books to engage all preschoolers. Stay tuned as Learning Ally shares more information about this important initiative.
Non-profit volunteer organization
Learning Ally, which was previously named Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), is a non-profit volunteer organization operating nationwide in the United States. It produces and maintains a library of educational accessible audiobooks for people who cannot effectively read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other disabilities.
A Learning Ally member's personal audiobook library.
Learning Ally provides services for individuals with print disabilities such as dyslexia and visual impairments, as well as the people who support them. This includes services for parents such as phone consultations, webinars, support networks and information on specialists and tutors; and services for teachers such as classroom management tools (Teacher Ally), professional development workshops and lesson plans.
Learning Ally also offers a digital audiobook library which in 2015 contained over 80,000 titles, including textbooks on specialty and academic subjects, from kindergarten through post-graduate and professional.
Borrowers must provide a certification of their disability, and may borrow titles through an individual membership, through their association with a member institution such as a school, or both. In recent years[when?], approved borrowers had paid no charges for this service through funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Since the federal appropriation was eliminated in 2011, Learning Ally began requiring an annual membership fee for individuals, currently $135, with hardship waivers available for those who qualify. Audio software for mainstream mobile devices and the group's Link software for Mac and PC are available to members free of charge. Institutional memberships are also provided at various fee levels to public and private schools, colleges and universities.
The company awards four types of scholarship prizes to students who use its assistive technology.
Learning Ally Link is an educational reading app, designed for students who learn through listening, including students with dyslexia, learning disabilities or visual impairment.
In 2015, Learning Ally launched the Explore1in5.org site, a student-driven community hub to drive public awareness of dyslexia.
The site offers resources and information on dyslexia, including:
Video statements and stories by children and teens describing their dyslexia experiences
Common misconceptions and myths about dyslexia
Opportunities for site visitors to contribute their own stories by uploading a video or writing a blog entry
Ideas and materials to help raise awareness of dyslexia
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.
Autism directly affects 1 in 68 children including 1 in 42 boys. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the .