Alexandria resident proves blindness is no obstacle to educational success
PRINCETON, NJ – Learning Ally, a 66-year-old nonprofit serving individuals with learning and visual disabilities, has bestowed its highest award to Brian Miller of Alexandria, VA. Miller is one of six students from across the U.S. who will receive cash awards and travel with their families to be honored at Learning Ally’s National Gala celebration in Washington, DC this April.
Miller was born blind, but he didn’t let that stop him from experiencing everything life has to offer. He says he’s had to learn things in his own way – everything from playing in the snow to falling in love. During elementary school, Miller was one of the first wave of blind students to be mainstreamed into public schools with sighted peers. “For a long time it was a world of scarcity,” he recalls. “Lack of books, lack of proper instruction, and lack of understanding as to what blind children need to succeed academically.”
When Miller was 13, he was introduced to Learning Ally, which at that time was known as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. The accessible audiobook library at Learning Ally was much larger than what he had access to in braille, and he consumed the books as quickly as they could arrive. It opened an entire new world of independence adventure and learning. His first audiobook was “Huckleberry Finn” and he recalls thinking “It was so sprawling, so engaging and slightly scandalous – it couldn’t possibly be literature.” He wanted more.
Over the years, Learning Ally has accompanied Miller throughout high school and college. Most recently, he completed his doctorate in history from the University of Iowa – a feat he accomplished while working full time at the U.S. Department of Education.
Miller has a strong desire to help others, and he is living up to that dream. He also knows it is important to never stop learning. “I will never live long enough to read even half the books I’d wish to – and for that unsolvable dilemma I have to hold Learning Ally at least partially responsible.”
About the National Achievement Awards
Since 1959, Learning Ally has honored exceptional students who are blind or visually impaired through its privately endowed Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA) for college seniors and beyond. Hundreds of students apply for these prestigious awards each year and are selected by committees of Learning Ally volunteers, board members, parents, educators, donors and staff. Students are recognized for their academic excellence, leadership, and service to others; each award winner has a long list of honors and accomplishments, and has graduated with a GPA above 3.0, with most near the 4.0 mark; and they have thrived on their education paths thanks in part to their use of accessible educational content and assistive technology provided by Learning Ally. For information about applying for Learning Ally’s National Achievement awards, visit https://learningally.org/naa/apply.
About Learning Ally
Founded in 1948, Learning Ally helps K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Through its support programs and audiobooks, Learning Ally enables families and teachers to help students thrive and succeed. The organization provides support to parents and students through events, webinars, personal consultations and other tools; and integrated learning management systems and professional development for teachers. In addition, Learning Ally’s collection of more than 80,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded on mainstream smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world. Several thousand volunteers help to produce the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit https://learningally.org.
Contact: Doug Sprei
Learning Ally PR & Communications