Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Five Back to School Tips for Parents of Struggling Readers
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September 26, 2017 by Julia Testing

Starting off the school year right for students with learning differences like dyslexia is very important to ensure their success throughout the year. Relieving the stress parents can face during this very busy time is key in creating balance while a child is transitioning from school to home. At Learning Ally, we know what you're going through, from IEPs to locker combinations, school supplies, food drives and extracurricular activities ... the list goes on.

Back to school season can be chaotic, so we've put together a list of five ways our audiobook solution can get you and your child on track for a better school year.

#1 - 20 minutes a day keeps the tears away and increases test scores

20 Minutes Daily Reading Performance Chart

Research has shown that reading 20 minutes each day can raise students' performance on assessment testing. Try blocking off regular times for your child to ear read independently. Here is a list of 23 books your child would love to read. The great thing about audiobooks is you can take them anywhere and read on the go. Squeeze in reading time during car rides or while waiting on long lines at the grocery store.

The great thing about Learning Ally audiobooks is that you can take them anywhere and read on the go. Squeeze in reading time during car rides or while waiting on long lines at the grocery store.

In short, more time reading = more words read = better reading performance.

#2 - Make homework easier

Did you know Learning Ally has textbooks? Browse through our books by subject and see if you find audio versions of your child's school books. Make homework easier and less frustrating while giving yourself back some much needed personal time. With only 24 hours in a day, Learning Ally can help keep the tears away.

#3 - Create a comfortable spot for your child to read

SRT Winner of reading in most creative spaceStruggling readers are inherently less comfortable with the act of reading than their more fluent peers. What better way to ease some of their discomforts than with a plush reading space, easy natural lighting and an inviting background? Creating a comfortable, dedicated reading space in your home invites your child to relax and read or listen to an audiobook. Sometimes all it takes are some brightly-colored pillows in a quiet corner or a cardboard box converted into a fort.

#4 - Network with other parents

Are you part of Learning Ally's Parent Chat group? It's a closed Facebook group where thousands of parents share their challenges, strengths, and triumphs. The group is full of rich, valuable discussion; and it's moderated by parents and educators who provide resources and help answer questions you may have regarding your child's learning differences.

Meet our Parent Chat moderators

Nikki S. -- Stay-at-home mom of three awesome kids and member of Learning Ally since June 2016.

Nikki S. Learning Ally Parent Chat Moderator "When my 10-year-old son was identified as dyslexic, I found the Learning Ally Parent Chat group to be an amazing resource for all the questions I had. When they asked for moderators, I jumped at the chance to help. I have learned so much and want to continue learning and sharing resources with all the parents in our group. I am also a former 2nd and 3rd-grade teacher, so I look forward to using all of my new knowledge about dyslexia when I return to the classroom."

Renee W. -- Learning Ally member and mother

Renee W. Learning Ally Parent Chat Moderator"My daughter, Sydney, is 10 years old and in 5th grade. We have been members for three years. I am a meteorologist with the National Weather Service by trade, but I'm also pursuing a Masters in Education concentrating in Reading Science with Mount St. Joseph University. I am Orton-Gillingham trained through them and will be graduating this December."

#5 - Let Kids "Catch" You ReadingLearning Ally Mom and Son reading

It's important that your child sees you reading. Adults who read are positive role models, reinforcing reading habits learned in school and inspiring children to read on their own. Pair up and encourage reading aloud and audiobook usage. You can take turns with your child reading along aloud with audiobooks.

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Putting California Dyslexia Guidelines Into Action
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September 13, 2017 by Monica Haley

Learning Ally’s human-narrated audiobooks have just been listed in the new California Dyslexia Guidelines (CDG) as a recommended reading accommodation by the California DOE. The CDG is the latest addition to the library of state education authored resources for educators who suspect or identify students with a learning disability. The Guidelines offer direct, explicit, and systematic reading instruction, as well as clear and useful direction on the need for, and uses of, accessible educational materials, including audiobooks.

This distinction is an honor we accept gladly to support California educators as they plan to identify struggling readers with dyslexia and provide reading accommodations to transform their reading experience. To assist California educators in this effort, Learning Ally is hosting this webinar and hope you will join us. Register Now!

Ready, Set, Go - Putting Your CA Dyslexia Guidelines into Action

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 2:00 PT, Dr. Kathy Futterman, a CA dyslexia expert, will discuss three key areas to implement the CA Dyslexia Guidelines:

  • Guidance in building an effective dyslexia action plan.
  • Showcase of effective models underway in California districts.
  • Proven resources to identify, remediate, and accommodate students with dyslexia.

Photo of Kathy Futterman, text reads: Putting CA Dyslexia Guidelines in action

Ready to Empower More Struggling Readers to Be Confident Learners?

Learning Ally wants to be your school partner. Talk with us about having a 24/7 audiobook library and see how easy it is to manage reading assignments, student’s time-on-task, reading interests and progress monitoring using our super-friendly teacher tools and resources.

Like to have a similar webinar or discussion in your state or with your school or district team? We welcome the opportunity! Call 1-800-221-1098

Learning Ally LogoLearning Ally is a leading nonprofit ed-tech organization that provides over 80,000 human-narrated audiobooks to students who have learning or visual disabilities. Not a member? Find out how to sign up your school today.

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Using Cloud Technology to Meet Special Education Needs
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September 12, 2017 by Mir Ali

Guest blog by Sally Keys, dyslexia parent and education writer

The cloud has had a huge impact on the way we use the internet and organize our online lives over recent years, and is one of the most fast-developing aspects of digital technology. It affects our home and work life, and is also revolutionizing online learning. The impact on those with special educational needs can be even more significant.

girl at computer

Cloud computing reduces capital expenditure on equipment by allowing the use of virtual desktops that are far less expensive. It also provides a variety of storage solutions that are secure and inexpensive. Here we take a look at the benefits cloud computing is bringing to special needs education.

Bringing technology to those who need it

Cloud tech researcher and blogger Sam Garforth commented some time ago on how the cloud allows the usage of low-cost tablets for large-scale usage in education. But the benefits go beyond cost considerations, particularly for those with special needs.

Anyone can use a virtualized desktop from a basic laptop, PC or tablet, and access all the educational resources they need, from any location. This means that being of limited mobility, or having other disabilities that restrict the ability to attend school or college, are no longer barriers to achieving a full education and excelling academically.

Reducing drop out levels

In regular education, high school drop out rates have been reducing steadily since the 1960s. Yet for those in special education, the levels have remained steady. Educational Services of America (ESA) commissioned some studies to see how cloud-based solutions might help. They found that cloud deployment meant that software could be deployed within a matter of days instead of weeks and months.

They also concluded that with students no longer having to visit a special education center to use these applications, there were far fewer barriers to them continuing with their studies through to graduation.

Online library resources

An additional bonus that the cloud brings to those in special education is cloud based library resources such as Learning Ally. This provides resources such as audio books and literature to special needs children and others with disabilities.

Education for all

Digital technology provides greater and more flexible learning opportunities to everyone, regardless of their age, sex, wealth or social demographic. The use of cloud technology has also ensured that this inclusivity also extends to those with special educational needs.

Learning Ally LogoLearning Ally is a national nonprofit providing support to students who have print disabilities. To find out more, please visit LearningAlly.org

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Honoring the Memory of our Colleague, Our Friend: Lissa True
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September 6, 2017 by Mir Ali

It is with deep sadness that we share news of the passing of our colleague and our friend Lissa True. Lissa has been a valued member of our Learning Ally family, and our deepest sympathy goes out to her husband Dean, children Anthony and Victoria, and her extended family.

Lisa with Yes! Program Members and Friends, Smiling

That family includes the national community around YES! (Youth Examples of Self Advocacy), the program that Lissa developed to support children with dyslexia. In September 2014, Lissa brought the Colorado-based YES! program into Learning Ally along with Sally Pistilli, another parent and volunteer. Since that time, YES! has expanded to three other states – NJ, MA and UT – impacting and helping hundreds of students and their families.

Lissa was the catalyst for launching all these programs, recruiting volunteer parent leaders, and training and coaching student leaders as YES! Ambassadors. Additionally, Lissa helped spearhead a virtual support program through the web to help students across the country with tools and resources for self-advocacy. Her tireless work ethic and incredible passion will be tremendously missed.

On a personal note, Lissa wore a Mickey Mouse watch on her wrist.  When I asked her about it – she said that it was there to remind her and everyone that she wanted to fill Disney World with kids holding purple YES! Balloons. Our hearts are heavy, but our mission goes on to fulfill the work this amazing woman began. Lissa will not be forgotten.

Yes Program Members Holding Purple Balloons

Regards, Cynthia Hamburger Chief Operating Officer & CIO Learning Ally

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Learning Ally Announces Improved Support for Educators
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August 30, 2017 by Jenny Falke (LAE)

Learning Ally is starting the school year off right with improved services for educators and schools enrolled in our ed-tech solution. With an additional Learning Ally representative tied to each school or district, Learning Ally is poised to empower more learners to achieve their academic potential.

photo of group of school staff

Every school will now have an Account Manager and an Engagement Manager, and will ultimately be supported by a large team at Learning Ally.

Account Managers act as the school or district liaison with Learning Ally and work to understand the needs of the school to drive success for students reading below grade level.

Engagement Managers help educators build Learning Ally audiobooks (from the school’s existing curriculum) into their instructional model by providing strategies and resources.

A team of support representatives are also on hand to answer questions and provide technical assistance at 800.221.4792 or custserv@LearningAlly.org.

“It’s Learning Ally’s belief that ‘together it’s possible’ and we are confident we can achieve outstanding results with a team of people surrounding each school,” Learning Ally Director of School Operations Andrew Singleton said. “If we have more team members focused on the specific needs of each school, we are well-positioned to help each school realize their goals for struggling readers.”

photo of team uniting

The Learning Ally school team united this summer to plan for the 2017-18 school year! Go team!

“We look forward to providing more active training events with walk-away strategies for educators to easily incorporate into their classrooms.” Learning Ally National Director of Educator Engagement and Initiatives Terrie Noland explained. “It’s so exciting to know that we can reach more struggling readers and transform more student’s lives through a full team of support for our educators!”

Schools enrolled with Learning Ally will receive notifications about who your account and engagement managers are, or you may contact 800.221.4792 for support.

Bring Learning Ally to Your School and Be Supported By Our Dedicated Team

Learning Ally is a cost-effective solution to help your students who read below grade level boost their vocabulary, comprehension and test scores. Our extensive library of human-read audiobooks includes core content, is easy to set up, and fits into your existing curriculum.

Learn how you can transform the lives of your struggling readers. Sign up for a demo today! Or, call 800.221.1098 or email programs@LearningAlly.org.

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