Children with print disabilities can find reading to be an overwhelmingly complicated task, and in our print-driven world, this can cause learning delays and a lack of confidence. Dustin, a student in Oregon, grew up with severe dyslexia. "It was very frustrating because I didn't like not being able to read and write," he says. "I wanted to be just as smart as everyone else."
Learning Ally, an Oak partner since 2009, is an American organisation dedicated to empowering blind, visually impaired or dyslexic students to achieve their full potential. It provides learning accommodations such as audiobooks so that students can read the same grade-level books as their peers without falling behind. Learning Ally also works with a wide community of parents, educators and specialists to help raise awareness of dyslexia and other reading disabilities.
One of the key elements of Learning Ally is its online library of more than 82,000 human-narrated textbooks and literature titles - the largest library of human-narrated audiobooks for students with disabilities in the world. Students and teachers can access the whole library, listen to books on their smartphones, tablets and computers, and with many titles, enjoy the words being highlighted onscreen as they are spoken, which reinforces word identification and decoding skill development.
“The audiobooks for Learning Ally have opened up new worlds for some of our children,” says one teacher. “Children that have never been able to read before are now discovering new ways to learn.”
Students become more motivated and engaged as they are now able to read age-appropriate texts.
Thanks to the help he received from Learning Ally, Dustin was able to graduate as the valedictorian in his high school class and progress to college. “Learning Ally totally changed my life,” says Eddie Maza, another student with dyslexia. “I remember the day that I started using it in history class. I knew the answers and that was the first time that had ever happened. It was just the most amazing feeling that I was on par with the rest of the class.”