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.
We didn’t become the world’s largest provider of audio textbooks and literature overnight. Our history is deeply rooted in making sure everyone — no matter the hurdle — can enjoy and comprehend the printed word.
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.
2002: RFB&D released DAISY CD (AudioPlus®) digitally recorded textbooks.
2007: RFB&D transitioned to an all-digital Learning Through Listening® Library, and launched the support website at www.LearningThroughListening.org.
2008: RFB&D introduced WMA Downloadable (AudioAccessSM), allowing titles to be downloaded directly to computers and portable media players.
2009: RFB&D introduced Downloadable DAISY (Downloadable AudioPlus)
2010: RFB&D introduced ReadHear by gh, enabling users to access content on both Mac and Window-based computers.
2011: RFB&D makes content accessible on Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.
April 11, 2011: RFB&D changes its name to Learning Ally to better represent the full breadth of services and the individuals who are members.
2013: Learning Ally introduces Parent Ally, a new parent support service.
2013: Learning Ally makes content accessible on Android devices.