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Helping Teachers Reach Students In Need

Many teachers say it's not uncommon to find they have students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia in their classrooms. Fortunately, if they have not received tools or training in how to teach those students, teachers do have an ally they can rely on. Since 1948, national nonprofit Learning Ally has supported those who learn differently to ensure academic and lifelong success. In addition to being the world's leading provider of human-narrated audiobooks for students with learning and visual disabilities, the organization has become a critical resource for parents, families and teachers. Learning Ally recognizes that in order to address America's overall reading and literacy problems, resources must be expanded to support millions of students who have dyslexia-the most common learning disability, affecting up to one in five individuals. With this in mind, Learning Ally delivers training sessions, webinars and technology equipping teachers to help students with dyslexia; and it has also built up networks of highly qualified tutors and specialists who can provide assistance for parents seeking help for their children. For parents, Learning Ally also provides a vibrant community of support-online, on the phone and in person-to help them navigate the many challenges that come with raising a child with reading and learning issues. An example of the contribution Learning Ally can make in a school setting can be seen in its Denver Public Schools program, where nearly 3,000 students in over 150 schools are receiving support. More than 50,000 audiobook pages have been read by students on mobile devices; thousands more pages are being read via PCs or Macs. Funded by a private donation through the Denver Foundation, the program's goal is to reach over 5,000 students within the next year. Lauren Sabo, a multi-intensive special education teacher at Manual High School in Denver, has been using the program's resources for over three years to accommodate her students. "We use Learning Ally for students who have a specific learning disability in reading, which could be dyslexia, and also students with cognitive delays or low reading skills," Sabo says. "We have a group of students who have critical need of additional tools to help them in the classroom, so this is a really great program for us." Since it was introduced into the reading program at Loveland Middle School in Ohio, use of Learning Ally has expanded into five of six schools across the district, and after only one year, 81 teachers are using the audiobooks with their students. Speech language pathologist Susan Mechler, who championed the program in the district, says, "Learning Ally makes students independent. It's user friendly enough that they can access it themselves. It opens up their world." Audiobook sales have improved drastically since 2008, from just 80.85 million to 272.82 million in 2013. Access to audiobook has been made easier through various applications available for smartphones and tablets such as cross-platform spoken word service Audioboo. Audioboo, which is owned by the London-based Audioboom Group PLC (BOOM.L), offers audiobooks from some of the big audiobook publishers that include BBC AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) and HarperAudio of HarperCollins. New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler, who is also an avid podcaster, also has his own Audiboo channel where he shares his stories on a per-episode basis. Audioboom is a SaaS based digital social media audio platform enabling the creation, broadcast and consumption of audio across multiple global media outlets. Audioboom works with some of the biggest names in broadcasting across sport, entertainment and current affairs to bring their content to millions of listeners worldwide via Facebook, Twitter and other media platforms. Audioboom has over 1,700 content partners, including the BBC, Telegraph, Guardian, CBS, Sky Sports, Premier League, Southern Cross Austereo, Reuters, CNBC, Universal and Fox.