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.


Filling "Holes" on the Printed Page
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Mitchel Janssen was in for a treat when he accepted an invitation to help at our annual Record-A-Thon in Austin, Texas. The enterprising teen, who is dyslexic, spent a day showing guests how the Learning Ally Audio App helps him complete his reading assignments. Toward the the end of the afternoon, he found himself face to face with his idol, Louis Sachar -- the very author who ignited his interest in reading.

"I didn't really read until I was eight years old," recalls Mitchel. "And even then, it would take forever to finish a reading assignment. I'd have to constantly get up and walk around between reading just a few paragraphs -- because it was just so tiring." But when his mom, Kaaren, began reading Louis Sachar's Holes out loud to Mitchel, he became hooked on listening to books. Later, when the family found out they could get all of Mitchel's textbooks in audio format from Learning Ally, they knew they had found a solution.

"Learning Ally has really made a difference for Mitchel," says Kaaren. "When they called and invited us to Record-A-Thon, I knew we had to be there."

Mitchel and his parents shared with guests and volunteers how Learning Ally helped him rise to the top of his class. Mitchel spent the entire day visiting with the media, authors and representatives from congress. Attendees like Judy Maggio of KEYE-TV (pictured at right with Mitchel) were especially interested in how he listens to books on his iPad using the Learning Ally Audio App.

Later that afternoon, when Louis Sachar strolled into the studio to narrate for a Record-A-Thon session, Mitchel beamed with excitement. He started off by asking Sachar to autograph his copy of Holes. The two talked about Mitchel’s struggle with dyslexia and how reading Holes helped get him accepted into a private school.

Mr. Sachar (below right) was delighted to hear that Holes was the book that helped Mitchel develop a passion for reading. Mitchel with Author Louis Sachar

"I used to spend a lot of time on my reading assignments every week," says Mitchel. "After I finished, my eyes were fried and I couldn't do anything else I wanted to do because I didn't have the energy. Learning Ally has cut the time I spend on reading in half." Mitchel is getting set to graduate as valedictorian of his senior class, and has been accepted to the University of Texas at Austin. We are honored to be part of his bright future. We're also grateful to Louis Sachar for weighing in as an AUTHOR for ACCESS.

-Jenny Falke




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