meep (meep) wrote,

12 Days of Learning: Day 8 - Helping Those Who Can't Read

Today's site is Learning Ally.

There are two sides to this post. First, let's look at who Learning Ally serves, and how it's evolved. Originally, this non-profit org was named Recording for the Blind. It started out as a service to record textbooks for blind vets of WWII, who were having trouble taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. Textbooks were recorded on LPs back then. In the 1990s, they expanded their name to Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. And in 2011 they changed to the current name, realizing they didn't want to restrict the situation to particular categories - various physical disabilities can make reading difficult, not only blindness.

Because of copyright concerns, to become a member with access to their audiobook library, you need to demonstrate that you have a disability of some sort preventing you to read print (when you see that their catalog includes some very popular books which have their own audiobooks already produced out there, you can see the concern of some publishers). It's not just fictional books that are out there, but the original "core" mission of textbooks, such as these math texts.

You may hear my dulcet tones in some of those recordings (or not... I last recorded in 2005, iirc). And here comes my second part: Learning Ally's recordings are made by volunteers, especially for the specialty texts. I think it's a great volunteer stint, if you can do it - and one benefit is improvement of communication skills as well. Volunteer readers are trained, especially given they have certain standards for reading formulas, describing graphs, etc. If reading /recording is not your gig, you can help edit. And if your business or group is near one of their studios, you can sponsor a read-a-thon (reading stuff such as fiction requires less training).

Maybe when I get some more free time (ha), I'll go back to recording, but in lieu of that - maybe one of y'all can help - it's a great crew!



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