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Monday, April 11, 2011

Learning Ally is the New Name for Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

Name change reflects nonprofit’s strategy to support a broader population of individuals with learning differences and reading disabilities.

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), a 63-year old nonprofit organization serving over 300,000 individuals across the U.S. with learning differences and reading disabilities, announced that it has officially changed its name to Learning Ally, effective April 11, 2011.

The new name is accompanied by a tagline, "Making reading accessible for all", and was selected after months of research and focus groups were conducted with hundreds of RFB&D student members, parents, volunteers, education professionals and other stakeholders.

“Changing the name of a long-established national institution such as RFB&D is not something we entered into lightly,” says Andrew Friedman, Learning Ally’s President and CEO. “Our members themselves were the key driver of this transformation. For one thing, our mix of users today includes individuals with diverse learning differences that are outside the scope of our former name.

“Most important of all,” adds Friedman, “our members have expressed loud and clear that they don’t wish to be labeled or typecast with a specific ‘disability.’ They just want the same opportunities to succeed that others enjoy. Our new name goes to the heart of supporting their desire to learn and achieve.”

Recording for the Blind was founded in 1948, with a mission to provide equal access to the printed word for veterans and others with blindness and visual impairment. Early volunteers recorded textbooks onto vinyl discs and tape reels. During the 1990s, RFB extended its mission to include access for people with dyslexia and learning disabilities, and changed its name to RFB&D. As its library grew to become the largest of its kind in the world, RFB&D made audiobooks accessible on cassettes, CDs and downloadable formats with extensive navigation capabilities for students with reading disabilities. Users accessed their books with specialized assistive technology devices from a variety of vendors.

In 2010, RFB&D embraced the latest mainstream technology, making its content accessible on Mac and Windows computers for users at home or in school. And in February 2011, an application was released enabling its entire library of downloadable audiobooks to be played on Apple iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

All of this is good news for the widening base of students, parents, teachers and schools that Learning Ally serves.

“We truly cherish the values of our founders and stand on the solid foundation built by countless RFB&D volunteers and donors,” says Andrew Friedman. Today we recognize that as many as one in five individuals learn differently. Now as Learning Ally, we continue to support our blind and dyslexic members, while positioning the organization to be even more inclusive, as an advocate and friend to people for whom access and reading are barriers to learning.”

Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as veterans and lifelong learners, all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s collection of more than 65,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles, delivered through internet downloads and various assistive technology devices, is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success. Learning Ally, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, call (866) 732-3585 or click this link to visit http://www.LearningAlly.org.

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