“With Learning Ally, I was able to read four or five books this year. It makes it easy,” says 20-year-old Nebiyu Dingetu
, a native of Ethiopia who came to America just seven years ago. Legally blind, he was born with cataracts in both eyes; he also has glaucoma and corneal edema.
Nebiyu was a role model for his peers at El Camino Fundamental High School, where he recently graduated: “Track and cross country were the highlight of high school for me.”
He was also a member of the television production class. Nebiyu made dozens of short films, including a video celebrating the track and cross country program’s motto, “One Team, One Goal, One Family.”
Nebiyu was able to read large print in his freshman year, but his eyesight quickly began to fail. “It would take me a really long time to finish a book and sometimes my eyes would get tired and I’d have to stop and take breaks. It would take me twice or three times as long to read a page as anybody else. And in high school you have so much reading, especially in English classes and different novels.”
District resource teacher Deborah (Debi) Martin says, “We began Braille instruction in preparation for his impending visual loss. Since he was not yet fluent in Braille, I also introduced him to the world of audiobooks with Learning Ally, to enable him to keep up with his studies.”
Debi says that Nebiyu soon “got hooked” on audiobooks. Nebiyu related, “I basically got my textbooks and novels on audio CDs and found 95 percent of the books I needed in Learning Ally’s library. I would definitely recommend Learning Ally—it helped me get through high school. Now I can read as quickly as everyone else!”
Debi says: “Nebiyu graduated from high school in June, was accepted to three colleges, and chose California State University, Northridge. He always worked very hard in school, and overcame many obstacles. Nebiyu has had several eye surgeries in the past four years, but he never complained. And he always made up any classwork missed during his absences.
“I am very thankful for the services of Learning Ally. Having books in audio format made all the difference in Nebiyu’s progress in school, and gave him the confidence to successfully complete his classes.”
While Nebiyu’s classmates consistently found him to be their inspiration, he takes things in stride, moving to a new city by himself, and beginning his major in Cinema and Television Arts at the university this fall. “I’ve been taking video production classes since the 8th grade. I’m interested mostly in directing, writing and editing.”
“I’m hoping to move to L.A. so that I can work in production and work my way up. But it all depends on my vision. The funny thing is, I’m interested mostly in the visual parts like cinematography, directing, editing, things that have to do with the camera. But I’m going to give it a try.”
Nebiyu finds his inspiration through icons like Beethoven and Helen Keller, who changed the world despite their physical challenges. “Although my doctors have told me they’ve pretty much done all they can, there are always medical advancements – and I do believe in miracles.”