Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement


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.

A Mom on a Mission ...Brenna McGowan's Story
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March 29, 2023 by Learning Ally

Brenna McGowan recently donated thousands of dollars to Learning Ally through a fundraising event that will support struggling readers in schools across the United States. On behalf of our entire staff, we thank Brenna for her generous support, amazing optimism, and passion for literacy. You have made such a difference! 

Here is her story… 

Reading is a basic skill that we must be good at to accomplish almost anything we set out to do. 

My son Jack, who is now an adult, was one of those kids always behind in school. He couldn’t keep his head above water. When he entered Brenna and her son Jack fourth grade, his learning gap really widened. It was heartbreaking to watch him struggle. I cried many times thinking about all of his frustration over the years. 

Jack never loved to read, so I would read with him every night. I was determined to help him, because I’ve always been an avid reader, and know how important reading is to our education and lifetime goals. Once you get into fifth and sixth grade, reading with your mom is a torcher for a kid. I remember how Jack constantly tried to memorize words, because he thought that would help. 

We eventually tried a private school, and a teacher encouraged us to get Jack tested for a learning disability. I began to do some independent research as well, and learned about assistive technology and accommodations that would help children with reading challenges. That’s when I found Learning Ally. I talked with school administrators and teachers about human-read audiobooks and about the audiobook library filled with curriculum and literature. I’m proud to say that advocating for Jack, I opened up access for other kids like him. 

Reading is Life 

Jack is now an EMT and firefighter. Had he not been able to access Learning Ally audiobooks for studying, he would never be able to pass his tests or achieve the goals that matter to him. This is the reason I continue to fundraise for Learning Ally today. I believe in the organization. 

Nonprofits depend on members and advocates for literacy to support it. As I’m advocating, I’m talking with people who now have kids, or know of kids, who are struggling to read. I tell parents and colleagues about my story and encourage them to read to their children. I don't want any mom or child to go through what Jack and I did. 

You know, most moms can't sit and read with their kids for 30 minutes to an hour every night to keep them up to speed. Life doesn’t spare us the time these days. I encourage every parent with a struggling learner to inquire about resources and support for their kids, and to be persistent. 

Fundraiser Summit

Uncovering what's working now. Brenna's fundraising launch image.In my job, I help online businesses sell courses and services, so I’m always involved in planning large online events where industry experts speak on important topics. These events are no cost, but attendees have the opportunity to upgrade to a VIP status for a minimal cost. This status gives them lifetime access to our online professional events, and all the proceeds are donated to Learning Ally. Thousands of people potentially attend these events, and many of them recognize the important work that Learning Ally provides for students with learning disabilities in schools. In addition to the audiobook solution, the organization offers a dyslexia screening tool, an early literacy program to ensure kids learn language-based skills that are essential for reading comprehension, and professional brain-based instructional courseware for PreK-6 to teach educators how to improve their instruction around the science of reading. That’s a lot of good stuff! 

We all want children to succeed. 

I will never forget what access to Learning Ally did for my son and our family. When I share my journey, many people want to be a part of the solution. Even some of our speakers promote it through their social channels. Our country has millions of kids who struggle to read. If my donations can get Learning Ally into more schools and districts to support kids, that’s what I’m aiming for. 

Become a Learning Ally Fundraiser

For every dollar donated to Learning Ally, about ninety cents goes directly to U.S. schools and districts for the support of students with reading challenges. You can make a BIG difference. 

If you are interested in creating a fundraiser on behalf of Learning Ally, we thank you for your commitment and support. 

To help you get started, please visit this “design your own fundraiser” on our website.

And, special thanks to Brenna McGowan!


Read More about A Mom on a Mission ...Brenna McGowan's Story

Susan B. Anthony…Failure is Impossible

February 28, 2023 by Learning Ally

Susan B. (Brownell) Anthony was an American social reformer and activist for women's rights. She was a champion of temperance, abolition, the rigImage result for susan b anthonyhts of labor, and equal pay for equal work. She became one of the most visible leaders of the women's suffrage movement. At the age of 17, she was committed to social equality, and collected anti-slavery petitions. 

Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony traveled around the country delivering speeches in favor of women's suffrage. In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote passed the House and Senate. It is known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.  

More About Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. Her father, Daniel, was a farmer and later a cotton mill owner. He was raised as a Quaker. Her mother, Lucy, came from a family that fought in the American Revolution and served in the Massachusetts state government. From an early age, Anthony was inspired by the Quaker belief that everyone was equal under God. That idea guided her throughout her life. She had seven brothers and sisters, many of whom became activists for justice and emancipation of slaves. 

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass became close friends in their quest for social justice and civil rights. Both were opposed to slavery and recognized its similarity to women's rights. The famous suffragist and abolitionist shared many common goals, and worked together to change America. 

In the Learning Ally library, you can find stories about this remarkable early pioneer.

Not a member of Learning Ally yet?

Let Learning Ally act as a tool to help you navigate the world of literacy. It’s easy to become a member of Learning Ally, and gain access to tens of thousands of audiobooks. An annual household membership will provide your family with up to four qualified students unlimited access to our library and app specially designed for students who learn differently. Pay $99 with promo code HOME99. This is a $36 discount with access to our dyslexia screener tool.

Read More about Susan B. Anthony…Failure is Impossible

Eli's Mitzvah Project
Kid Reading Audiobooks

February 22, 2023 by Learning Ally


picture of Eli a youngsterBar or Bat Mitzvah symbolizes becoming an adult within the Jewish community, and taking on responsibilities in the community. A Mitzvah Project is a way for B’nai Mitzvah students to express a unique way that they are actively helping to improve their community. These projects often connect with a young person’s interests, hobbies, and passions. 

Learning Ally is fortunate in that one awesome student, Eli, is raising funds and awareness for students who learn differently and has selected our nonprofit as the beneficiary of his Bar Mitzvah project. Why? “Because Learning Ally helped me to read, and I want to help other people like me, read books,” he said. 

Eli was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. Prior to this, his mom read to him. Now, he reads independently using the Learning Ally app on his school computer. He finds literature that he needs to keep pace with his classwork and popular titles he wants to read for fun, like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series of books. Currently, he is reading Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice. 

Eli appreciates that Learning Ally’s app is specifically designed for kids with learning disabilities, like dyslexia, who have challenges decoding words fast enough to comprehend what they read. He frequently finds literature that he needs to read for school in the Learning Ally audiobook library.  

Student reading audiobooksIn early elementary, Eli was routinely pulled out of class, maybe two or three times, to read in a special education resource room. “I felt like I was different,” he recalls. Now as a seventh grader he attends a new school, Eagle Hill, where everyone in the school has access to Learning Ally and uses it to read in the classroom and at home. 

Bat Mitzvah BraceletsEli is excited about his upcoming Bar Mitzvah in early March. He is raising awareness and funds for Learning Ally, by talking with his teachers, family, and friends, about dyslexia, and what it means to have this learning difference. He will tell them about resources, like Learning Ally, that can help students read books for school at grade level. For his fundraising part, Eli is going to offer bracelets that say, “Learning Differences Are My Superpower!” We think that is an awesome idea and slogan!

Eli’s mom and dad are very proud of their son for taking on this community project. Carin, his mom shares, “With Learning Ally, he can work completely independently now, and he absolutely loves to read!” 

On behalf of Learning Ally, we want to thank Eli and his family for this special gift of time and fundraising community service. We wish him the best in all of his endeavors. 

If you would like to raise funds on behalf of Learning Ally, for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah project, birthday, anniversary, etc., please design your own fundraiser by creating a page on our website.

Read More about Eli's Mitzvah Project

Messages of Love and Encouragement to a Struggling Reader
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February 13, 2023 by Learning Ally

There’s no better time than Valentine's Day to send messages of encouragement to a struggling reader.

Yes, there is self gratification in reading, but many children and teens, especially early learners and struggling readers, need more coaching, and inspiring words to empower them to read.

Hearts of encouragementWhen we see a child’s face light up after they read their first book, or a teenager excitedly describe comprehending text in a complex subject on grade-level, these are "aha" moments that open the flood gates to knowledge, adventure, and confidence -- the precious gift that every child deserves.

So Let’s Do It!

Reading encouragement is such an easy act to do, and no one does it better than our Learning Ally teacher and parent communities. Here are messages that will make any child smile!

"It's so wonderful to see you find a good book and really enjoy reading."

"I see you. I see how hard you work. I see the warrior you are every day and every time you pick up a book. You are brave. You are strong. You are a success."

"You are not the only person that finds reading difficult...many people have had the same struggle. You have the opportunity to listen to all kinds of books (even your schoolbooks) on audio...while you learn ways that help you read and learn."

"You are given a unique gift. Find your gift, cultivate it. Share it with the world. Believe in yourself and your uniqueness. Society needs your gift."

"You are the "STAR" of your life journey! I believe in you! NEVER GIVE UP! You are a unique being with a unique purpose. Listen to your heart and balance with your mind!"

"Be strong, be a winner...be a reading wizard! Other people do it and become doctors, inventors, photographers, scientists, and cool house builders ... you can do it, too!"

"I am so proud of you for your dedication and hard work as you work towards your reading goals. Congratulations to you❤️!"

Not a member of Learning Ally yet?

Let Learning Ally act as a tool to help you navigate the world of literacy.

It’s easy to become a member of Learning Ally, and gain access to tens of thousands of audiobooks.

An annual household membership will provide your family with up to four qualified students unlimited access to our library and app specially designed for students who learn differently.

Pay $99 with promo code HOME99. This is a $36 discount with access to our dyslexia screener tool.

Read More about Messages of Love and Encouragement to a Struggling Reader

Honoring the Work of Frederick Douglass
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February 8, 2023 by Learning Ally


Frederick Douglass was born enslaved as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey on Holme Hill Farm in Talbot County, Maryland. Photograph of Frederick Douglass

Although the date of his birth was not recorded, Douglass estimated that he had been born in February 1818, and it is in this month that we celebrate his life and contributions to social justice and civil rights. 

Frederick Douglass was a prominent abolitionist, orator and statesman, who sought to end the practice of slavery before and during the Civil War. One of his most revered speeches is “The meaning of July Fourth for a Negro.” A brave affront to the hypocritical concept of independence at a time when slavery existed and racial injustices surged.

After the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, Douglass continued to push for equality, women’s rights, and human rights until his death in 1895. He penned five autobiographies, along with dozens of noteworthy speeches, despite receiving minimal formal education. One of his most esteemed publications is his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, describing his time as an enslaved worker. 

Douglass’ work served as an inspiration to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today his legacy continues to live on.

You can find many wonderful titles about Frederick Douglass in the Learning Ally audiobook library. 

Read More about Honoring the Work of Frederick Douglass

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