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Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic Announces National Achievement Award Winners

Categories: Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D®), the nation’s largest provider of educational audio textbooks, announced that 15 outstanding students with learning differences will be the recipients of its 51st annual National Achievement Awards.

Students are recognized for their academic excellence, extraordinary leadership, and service to others. Hundreds of students apply each year and are selected by committees of RFB&D staff, volunteers, board members, parents, and educators. This year, the number of applicants more than doubled.

All of these students have thrived on their education paths thanks in part to their extensive use of audio textbooks and assistive technology provided by RFB&D. Each student has a long list of impressive honors and accomplishments, and has graduated with a GPA above 3.0, with most near the 4.0 mark. The complete roster of winners includes:

Marion Huber Learning Through Listening (LTL) Awards

Top Winners receiving $6,000 cash award and trip to Washington, DC

  • Ryan Thomas Ansel,19, Fort Washington, PA; has Acute Dyslexia; graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, PA; plans to attend Davidson College in NC and major in Biology

  • Liat Hoffman,18, San Diego, CA; Graduated from San Diego Jewish Academy; has Dyslexia and Reading Disorder with deficits in fluency and comprehension; plans to attend Chapman University

  • Kyle Wittenauer,18, Richmond, VA; graduated from St. Christopher’s School in Richmond; has severe Spatial Processing Deficiency, Disgraphia, and Attention Deficit Disorder; was accepted early decision to Yale University and will major in Cognitive Neuroscience

Special Honors Winners - $2,000

  • Katie Salmon, 18, Edison, NJ; has Dyslexia; graduated from Purnell School in Pottersville; plans to attend Syracuse University in NY and major in Nutrition

  • Loriann Schmidt, 18, Louisville, KY; has Dyslexia, Reading and Written Expression Disability; graduated from Assumption High School in Louisville, KY; plans to attend Florida State University and major in Exercise Science

  • Andrew Covington, 19, St. Simons Island, GA; has Dyslexia; graduated from Frederica Academy in St. Simons Island, GA; plans to attend University of Georgia and major in Business

Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA)

Top Winners receiving $6,000 cash award and trip to Washington, DC

  • Susan Qashu, Tucson, AZ; Legally Blind; graduated from University of Arizona with a Ph.D. from the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Program and a minor in Natural Resources

  • Daniel Standage, 36, Tucson, AZ; Legally Blind, Bilateral optic nerve atrophy; graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation

  • Sharon Burniston, 48, Maplewood, NJ; Legally Blind, Stargardt’s disease (juvenile macular degeneration); Graduated from Drew University with a Master of Divinity

Special Honors Winners - $3,000

  • Jamesie Morgan, 28, Harpswell, ME, Legally Blind, Stargardt’s Disease; graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a Masters of Science degree in Teaching and Learning

  • Meghan Whalen, 22, Madison, WI; Legally Blind, Lebers Congenital Amaurosis with some light perception; graduated from University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing

  • JoAnna Larson, 58, Florence, AL; Legally Blind, Cone-Rod Dystrophy; graduated from the University of North Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology

Honors Winners - $1,000

  • Denna Lambert, Greenbelt, MD; Legally Blind, Congenital Cataracts, Nystagmus, Photophobia; graduated from George Washington University with a Masters of Science degree in Public Administration

  • Laura McAuliffe, 45, Reno, NV; Legally Blind, Born with Congenital Cataracts, Corneal Edema in Right Eye; graduated from the University of Phoenix with an Masters of Science degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

  • Rose Friedheim, 21, Kailua, HI; Legally Blind, Visually Impaired; graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology

Full biographies and photos of our National Achievement Award winners will be posted soon. 

Since 1959, RFB&D has honored exceptional students through the privately endowed Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA) for college seniors who are blind or visually impaired. The Marion Huber Learning Through Listening® Awards (LTL) were instituted in 1991 for high school seniors with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

About Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

Founded in 1948, RFB&D serves more than 270,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as veterans – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other disability. RFB&D's collection of 60,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – delivered through internet downloads, various assistive technology devices, and CD – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 5,400 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the books, which students rely on to achieve educational success.

RFB&D, 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 visit https://www.learningally.org.


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