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.
January 2, 2020 by Jhara Navalo
Sarah felt isolated, misunderstood, and always wanted to connect with other students who were just like her. What is not always apparent outwardly is that 13-year-old Sarah is a student with dyslexia. She is also a Learning Ally member since 2016 and community leader, since the first-grade when she was diagnosed.
With the help of her mom, Jenny, Sarah created a group called Dreaming Dyslexic, a safe space where kids who are dyslexic can come together to connect, inspire, and encourage each other and share in strengths, challenges and victories.
Since the inception of the program in October 2019. Dreaming Dyslexic has over 15 members and counting, who will participate in 6-8 local events (Minnesota) annually − where members meet notable people in the dyslexic community, share tips on how to deal with their dyslexia and learn how to identify their strengths as dyslexics.
Dreaming Dyslexic is not limited to local events, they’ve expanded on their offerings by piloting a virtual Read-A-Thon and fundraiser. Starting January 13, 2020 students who are dyslexic will come together and ear read using audiobooks and competing to win prizes and bragging rights. Using Learning Ally audiobook solution, students who are dyslexic can ear read and follow along with highlighted text to enhance the audible experience and increase their reading fluency and word recognition.
Student who participate will enjoy the benefits of reading, understand the joy in immersing themselves in a good book, and raise funds to support the Dreaming Dyslexic organization in providing even more support for students who are dyslexic. Sign-up to participate in Dreaming Dyslexic’s Read-A-Thon or to learn more about Dreaming Dyslexic visit https://dreamingdyslexic.com/
Categories: Learning Disabilities, Students
November 25, 2019 by Jhara Navalo
That’s right! Learning Ally is now a SOVAS (The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences) Award Winner! The one and only industry powerhouse Dave Fennoy won Best Voiceover Audiobook Narration in the History category for his work on our audiobook March Book Three!
Listen to Dave put his vast talent to work as he brings John Lewis's searing memoir of the fight for Civil Rights to life in an extraordinarily vivid way in March Book Three. And see below for more great Learning Ally audiobooks narrated by Dave!
Huge congratulations to Dave Fennoy, Michael Kinsey our producer, and the entire production team at Learning Ally!
Dave Fennoy, a preeminent voice artist, has one of the most versatile voices in the industry narrating globally-recognized commercials, TV programs, games and educational programs for companies like Lexus, McDonalds, The Disney Channel, Time Life Music R&B, National Geographic and the Science Channel. He has been part of our Learning Ally volunteer community since 2016 providing his unique voice to narrate popular, historic and iconic titles.
Here are some other audiobooks in our library narrated by Dave Fennoy:
March Book One:
March Book Two:
*A little trivia- this book was also used as a theme for the postal service holiday stamp back in 2017!*
LEARNING ALLY is a leading education solutions organization dedicated to transforming the lives of struggling learners. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is a proven multi-sensory reading accommodation for students with a reading deficit composed of high quality, human-read audiobooks, student-centric features and a suite of teacher resources to monitor and support student success. Used in more than 17,500 schools, empowering over 375,000 struggling readers annually, this essential solution bridges the gap between a student’s reading ability and their cognitive capability, empowering them to become engaged learners and reach their academic potential.
Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member
Categories: Audiobook Library
November 18, 2019 by Jhara Navalo
Terrie Noland, C.A.L.P, VP of Educator Leadership and Learning, introduces Terrie's Tips, a monthly blog to help reading specialist and tutors support students with a reading deficit. This tip provides insight into how audiobooks fit into the schematic of a structured literacy program.
I get asked this question so often, "Tell me the number, tell me the percentage of time that should be spent on structured literacy and the percentage of time on audiobooks?" What reading specialists, tutors, and educators need to think about is the goal they are trying to accomplish?
In this video, Terrie shares her tips on finding the right balance between structured literacy and audiobooks.
Categories: Assistive Technology
Every month, Learning Ally features one of our amazing Reading Champions - highlighting their efforts in supporting students who have a reading-based learning difference such as dyslexia. This month, we caught up with the Director of the Cooper Learning Center and author, Dr. Richard Selznick, who has referred over 300 students to use Learning Ally's Audiobook Solution, enabling them to read independently, access grade-level content, and learn to their ability.
About Dr. Selznick
Dr. Selznick is a licensed psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist, and the author of four books: What To Do About Dyslexia? 25 Essential Points for Parents; The Shut-Down Learner: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child; School Struggles: A Guide To Your Shut-Down Learner’s Success; and Dyslexia Screening: Essential Concepts for Schools & Parents. He consults with parents and act as a guide to help them navigate their child's educational landscape and make appropriate recommendations that will holistically satisfy the child's educational needs.
Dr. Selznick is one of Learning Ally's trusted partners, producing blogs for us to share with parents. In addition, he's been a featured speaker at our annual Spotlight on Dyslexia virtual conference. Please check out his blog "What to do about dyslexia? Maintain two column mindset" and website shutdownlearners.com or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Categories: Authors for Access
October 24, 2019 by Jhara Navalo
Reading and writing for children who are dyslexic can be difficult but not impossible. Here are 10 dyslexic authors who managed to turn their learning difference into a gift, providing hope and the joy of reading for children just like them.
The well-loved author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series doesn’t shy away from talking about his learning and attention issues. At school visits and book readings, Dav Pilkey is open about his own struggles with dyslexia and ADHD. He says that even when it was difficult for him, reading gave him superpowers. “I got the power of laughter, I got to travel to crazy new worlds where anything could happen, and my imagination—which is the greatest superpower of all—grew by leaps and bounds,” he says. “But one of the superpowers I am most grateful for receiving is the power of inspiration. These comics and illustrated stories inspired me to make my own comics and stories.”
“Books terrified me,” Henry Winkler recalls of his entire school experience. “They made me nervous. Now I know you can travel to the bottom of the ocean or to outer space or anywhere in between without leaving your armchair and I'm so, so sorry I couldn't read when I was younger.” Diagnosed with dyslexia at age 31, Winkler started off as a successful actor. He became famous for playing “The Fonz” on Happy Days. He then went on to write the smash-hit series about Hank Zipzer, a boy with dyslexia, with coauthor Lin Oliver. To his readers—and to all kids with dyslexia—Winkler says, “Your grades do not define how brilliant you are. Good thinking and a good thought is why you are smart.”
You may be surprised to hear that Octavia Spencer, who’s better known for being an Oscar-winning actress, is an author, too. She also has dyslexia. She published the first of two books in a series for middle-schoolers a few years ago. The Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series is a set of mysteries. “I’m reading today because of Encyclopedia Brown,” Spencer says of the popular mystery books. Spencer remembers how scared she was in the first or second grade when she had to read aloud in class. “I was paralyzed with fear because I kept inverting words and dropping words. I didn’t want to be made to feel that I was not as smart as the other kids—because I know that I am a smart person.”
Carmen Agra Deedy fled Cuba as a child refugee in the 1960s and settled in a small town in Georgia with her family. As she learned to speak English, she struggled with reading and phonics. School soon became a painful experience. Growing up, she recalls, “I never wondered why I understood some people more clearly than others, why some words were more distinct—no more than I wondered what a revolution was.” She wouldn’t be diagnosed with dyslexia until nearly 30 years later. But by then she had fallen in love with the language of Shakespeare, thanks to her high school English teacher. Her love of children’s picture books came next, after the many visits she and her young kids made to the library.
This award-winning author of more than a dozen children’s books wasn’t always called Sally. She changed her name to Sally because her dyslexia made it hard for her to spell her name. Born Sarah, Gardner struggled with the “h” in her name. “My mother had a friend who was an actress called Sally who said, ‘Look, darling, the best thing to do is Sally because the s is like a snake, you have a little a and two long lines and a y to catch it all.’ And I thought, I can do that.” She did, and now her name is well-known for her incredible novels and fairy tales.
It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that Jeanne Betancourt learned the name of the condition, dyslexia, that made spelling and reading so difficult for her as a child. Betancourt says having dyslexia helped her to become the author of more than 75 children’s books. “When I read or write, I hear every word in my head and I see things three-dimensionally. Hopefully, when people read my work, they pick up the rhythm of my writing and find it appealing—especially dyslexics, since I particularly want to make a connection with them.”
Children’s author and illustrator Patricia Barber Polacco is a prolific writer, although she didn’t start her first book until the age of 41. She didn’t do well in school, and wasn’t able to read until the age of 14. Patricia suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia until a teacher recognized her disability. She recognized this great teacher in the book Thank You, Mr. Falker, which shares the story of what happened when he discovered her dyslexia.
As one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby, as well as many short stories. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, F. Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have had a learning disability which was mostly likely dyslexia. It’s reported that he was kicked out of school at the age of 12 for not focusing or finishing his work, and he had a very hard time spelling, but he succeeded as a writer despite his disability.
Avi is beloved for his middle grade reader historical fiction novels. With a half-century writing career, 50 books, two Newbery Honors, and a Newbery Medal, he has had a major impact on the world of fiction. But Avi’s writing hasn’t always been easy to deal with: his teachers complained of messy and careless writing. His sloppy work was due to dyslexia, and Avi had to take on special tutoring sessions after failing out of his first high school. It was during these tutoring sessions that Avi was inspired to become a writer, and he developed a love of reading and writing voraciously.
Categories: Audiobook Library, Featured