Sunday, April 20, 2014

Learning Ally Audible Book Service - A Review

Learning Ally is a non profit audible book service for students with a print disability.  It was formerly called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.  Founded in New York City in 1948, the organization initially had volunteers who read to returning GIs in World War II who had lost their eyesight in battle.  The organization’s Stated Purpose is to create opportunities for individual success by providing, and promoting the effective use of accessible educational materials”

Today Learning Ally has over 75, 000 volunteer read titles in their audio library.  They have the world’s largest selection of audio textbooks which can be played on a DAISY device, PC, Android or Apple.  One can enroll in a free 14 day trial by visiting  There is individual, school, and district membership packages for a three month period or a year term.

Learning Ally is more than an audio book service.  The organization offers support for students, parents, educators, and adult learners.  They present monthly webinars presented by their parents and experts. Each event focuses on managing learning disabilities and is highly interactive.  They offer parents a 30 minute phone consultation with Learning Ally's Parent Support Specialists.   Where you can ask questions and get practical guidance from trained parents that know what you're going through.  Learning Ally has free educator webinars on dyslexia and professional development packages about dyslexia.

The audio book feature is easy to use.  First you search for your book by author/subject/title/grade level/copy write year/ISBN number.  You then put the book on your “bookshelf”.  From there you can log into your account from any device and download the book to the device.
Intuitive Controls Make Learning Ally Audio Easy to Use
Learning Ally Audio displays seven buttons at the bottom of the screen:
1.     Zoom: Visually impaired readers can adjust font size (from 100% to 300%) or highlighting (4 text and background color options) by clicking the "Aa" icon
2.     Reading Speed: Click the runner icon to access a screen to adjust reading speed and pitch, or press the "Standard Value" button to reset to default
3.     Back: Press the left pointing arrow to move to the previous page
4.     Play: Press to play or stop playing the book
5.     Forward: Press the right pointing arrow to move to the next page
6.     Level Navigation: Press the four-way arrow icon to access a screen with arrows that enable quick navigation to any level or section of the book
7.     Bookmark: Press the bookmark icon to mark a page; retrieve it using the "Bookmark" navigation button in the Table of Contents.

Here are a few perspectives on the benefits of Learning Ally.  

There are several aduible book services available.  Here is a comparison matrix of some of the features of three common services.


                                               LEARNING ALLY                                                                                                               AUDIBLE.COM
Eligible Audience
Blind and Dyslexic
General Public
Blind and Dyslexic
Title Collection
65% = Textbooks
35% = Popular
0% = Textbooks
100% = Popular
5% = Textbooks
95% = Popular / Magazines
Human-Read by Subject Matter Experts
Read by Authors and Celebrities
Read by Computer (Synthetic)
Download Limit
Unlimited/yearly or 4 books/quarter
24 books/year
(Additional plans available)
Up to 100/month
Special Features
For Blind Users
Picture Image Description and Audio Playback
Audio Playback
Audio Playback
Pricing *
$49/quarter or $119/year
(Additional plans available)
Free to U.S. Students, $75 for other individuals
Services for Parents
Yes (Flexibility in providing direct access to pages)
Yes (Flexibility in providing direct access to pages)
Highlighted Text
with Audio
Select Titles
On Kindle Only
App Purchase Necessary
App Price
(for mobile devices)
Live Customer
Best for:
Help in school
Pleasure reading
News and resources

The services provided by Learning Ally definately meet the organization's mission to create opportunities for individual success by providing, and promoting the effective use of accessible educational materials”.  The textbooks at the high school and college level make it possible for students with disabilities reach their highest goals.

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