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.

Volunteering Outside of the Box
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Volunteer Susan McCain What do you do when you become separated from an activity you love? You find another way. That's what volunteer Susan McCain did when she could no longer locally support Learning Ally's mission. Susan has been volunteering with the organization since 1978, when it was still Recording for the Blind and using reel-to-reel tapes. A longtime volunteer at the Chicago studio, she switched to recording from home when she and her husband retired and moved to Savannah, GA, in 1990.
“I absolutely love it.”
In the past, Susan was mailed physical books to read, but she recently switched to Learning Ally’s on-screen text program. “I’m new to reading off the computer screen, but so far it’s been much easier than dealing with books and paper.” As a general reader who has narrated history, geography, literature, and textbooks, Susan has been exposed to a wide variety of subjects, some more obscure than others. "You learn all sorts of tidbits of information you may have otherwise never come across. One book that stands out as being 'very interesting' was on the culture of worms. People use them as composting elements and they’re actually quite valuable for that." A former music teacher and then stay-at-home mom to her three daughters, Susan says she became a professional volunteer of sorts, splitting her time between Learning Ally, the Lyric Opera Guild of Chicago, AAUW, Hinsdale Cotillion, and the Chicago Art Institute. "What I like most about at-home reading is that you can do it on your own time schedule. I do my recording mostly in the evening after dinner and read about four to six hours per week. I’ve also had wonderful experiences with the directors while home recording. They’re always willing to help.” To anyone considering home recording, Susan says, “Give it a try! It’s very rewarding.”

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