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Innovations in Audiobook Production: Learning Ally Volunteers Deliver a Highly Engaging Student Experience And Facilitate A Culture of Literacy

Categories: Authors for Access, General, The Digital Age, Volunteerism

In Learning Ally’s continual mission to solve the literacy crisis, our audiobook production department plays a key role. Given a two year plus pandemic with lasting impact on student learning, educators are facing new obstacles to an already uphill battle towards improved literacy. Moving into the spotlight as both educational solution and mainstream entertainment, audiobooks have become a high demand resource for modern audiences. 

“Today’s readers are sophisticated media consumers. Teachers and librarians, looking for ways to encourage multimodal literacy and accommodate diverse learning styles, are increasingly looking to audiobooks and are using them in conjunction with print books. Transmedia Literacy is today’s literacy.”

~Danielle Quisenberry-Ruvolo, Audiobook Producer at Learning Ally.


From our ground-breaking beginning in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally continues to be a trailblazer in the audiobook industry, setting new standards for accessible storytelling, and taking on an even bigger vision of inclusivity.

Bringing together artists and activists, Learning Ally has restructured the entire process of production, hiring professional producers to work hand in hand with a community of over a thousand dedicated volunteers. With enthusiastic support, Learning Ally launched and sold out a Narration Workshop Series for legacy volunteers who were eager to hone their craft. In these workshops, volunteers got professional level training on the technology and performance of audiobook recording so they could dig further into specific coaching on their next project. On coaching narrators, producer Ivuoma Hall shared,

“The best part of my job is getting to work with narrators to understand the beauty of the story that they’re telling so that they can transmit it to students. …
Which is the power of audiobooks…bringing that human element of emotion…
A lot of our volunteers have been donating so much time. It’s really cool to see the passion they have to tell these stories”.

~Ivuoma Hall Audiobook Producer at Learning Ally.


With more developed audiobook narration, students can engage more deeply with the text and walk away with deeper learning. Learning Ally’s volunteer-centered approach, doesn’t only increase access for listeners; it’s also increasing access in what is a historically exclusive world of casting. Participating at conferences like Voice Over Atlanta, Learning Ally’s creative teams are providing valuable industry insight for voice artists who have not otherwise had access to training and portfolio building opportunities. 


And supported by a DEI partnership with the Audio Publishers Association, Learning Ally is making it a priority to cast authentic voices in their growing collection of diverse stories and award winning texts. 

“Audiobooks in an educational setting are already making an impact. Learning Ally is being leveraged by over 260k educators with 1.6M students. 
We are making a concerted effort to make sure we’re telling these stories correctly to ensure we’re moving the needle on comprehension and fluency”. 

~Dave Kozemchak, AVP of Operations at Learning Ally


Quisenberry- Ruvolo notes that readers are traditionally limited to their own voice narrating a text in their mind. However, when readers have the privilege of an authentic narrator who has been prepped by volunteers on plot and pronunciation, something new becomes available. A narrator not only shares their voice–they share a lived experience. 

“The higher the quality of narration–the more connected the performance–the greater the possibilities for an enriched understanding.
The performance becomes part of the fabric of our own experience. It becomes the basis for new learning”.

~Danielle Quisenberry-Ruvolo, Audiobook Producer at Learning Ally.

Learn more about volunteer community, and join us in our mission of "Literacy-for-All."  

By Guest Blogger Michael Manzi

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