Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dyslexia: Online Audio Library

For some students, trying as hard as they can just isn’t enough. These students may be at a disadvantage because of widespread learning differences such as dyslexia or because of disabilities like visual impairment. Studies show that for these students to succeed, an online audio library of core curriculum textbooks and literature titles can make all the difference.

Research by Johns Hopkins University and case studies in the Baltimore City Public Schools showed significant improvements in students who use audiobooks. Reading comprehension improved by 76 percent, content acquisition by 38 percent, reading accuracy by 52 percent and self-confidence by 61 percent.

Scott Bartnick was diagnosed with a severe learning disability in 1st grade. His parents were told he might never be able to read, yet the 19-year-old recently graduated from high school with a 4.35 GPA-no easy feat given his disabilities in reading, decoding, fluency and spelling. Bartnick relied on a service called Learning Ally, which offers the most advanced library of accessible audiobooks in the world.

“Learning Ally helped me achieve academic success,” said Bartnick, who is now thriving in his junior year at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In fact, his elementary school awarded him the “Disney Dreamers and Doers Award,” an honor presented to just one student every year for “curiosity, courage and constancy.”

Early intervention can deliver dramatic results. When Leslie H. was in 2nd grade, teachers informed her mother, Lisa, that her daughter was only reading at a kindergarten level. A friend of Lisa’s told her about the Learning Ally website. Within 24 hours of signing up for the program, Leslie, who has severe dyslexia, had read three books. Lisa reported that her daughter’s speech pathologist noted a major difference in her daughter’s fluency and self-confidence. “She embraced words and books in a way she never had and that was really exciting.”

Originally founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, the nonprofit Learning Ally has grown to serve a complete spectrum of individuals from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as college students and working professionals.

Learning Ally’s digital library of audiobooks has special accessibility features for readers with print disabilities, and can be played on popular devices like the Apple iPad and iPhone, as well as MP3 players, Mac and PC computers and CD.

Students with a certified print disability are eligible for an individual membership from Learning Ally, 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 accommodate students with IEP and 504 plans. To learn more, visit

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