At Learning Ally, a national non-profit since 1948, our mission is to promote personal achievement when access and reading are barriers to learning by advancing the use of accessible and effective educational solutions.
While Learning Ally remains a leading provider of audiobooks – including the world’s largest library of audio textbooks – our organization has blossomed to become a critical resource to not only students in need, but also their parents, families, and educators.
From delivering parent workshops and tools for managing a learning difference to providing links to support networks, certifiers, and professionals in the field of learning disabilities, our goal is provide a community of support – online, on the phone, and in-person. We help parents manage the challenges that come with supporting a child with a reading and learning disability.
1948: It all began with Anne T. Macdonald, who envisioned a service for soldiers who had lost their sight in combat. At the time, the newly passed GI Bill of Rights guaranteed a college education to servicemen. Determined to help soldiers who were blind, Mrs. Macdonald led the New York Public Library’s Women’s Auxiliary to record textbooks on vinyl phonograph discs. The organization Recording for the Blind (RFB) was born.
1951: Demand was so great that RFB incorporated as the nation’s only nonprofit to record textbooks. Mrs. Macdonald then traveled across the country to establish recording studios in seven additional cities.
Reel-to-reel tapes, and then cassette tapes, replaced vinyl discs.
RFB continued to open studio locations across the country.
1983: The RFB headquarters moved to Princeton, NJ. Operations became computerized, and with the development of high-speed tape duplication, the number of books circulated tripled.
1990: Electronic text (E-text) provided computer disks for members to use with adaptive computer equipment.
1995: RFB becomes Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), after recognizing the increased membership of individuals with learning disabilities.
1996: RFB&D developed a pilot program for digital recording to ultimately produce textbooks on CD and other multimedia.
By the 2000s, membership was skyrocketing to include more than 75% of individuals with learning disabilities, from kindergartners to graduate students, as wells as working professionals.