Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Learning Ally's 1 in 5 Initiative

Learning Ally is known for their subscription based human narrated audiobooks and vast professional development opportunities. However, when I recently attended the Dyslexia: Making It Personal session with Mark Brugger at the Everyone Reading Conference in New York there were several "hand outs" available for participants to take at the conclusion of his session. As all like-minded educators do, I naturally I grabbed one of each and began looking them over. Although all were excellent (and will be shared at a later date), one in particular caught my eye with its simplistic, yet incredibly insightful graphics focusing on the identification of dyslexia and varying methods of support. I have posted it below with a link should you be interested in printing it for yourself. 

After scrolling through the information and graphics, at the bottom of the page I noticed the link to, so naturally I did what most of us would do and I visited the webpage. Little did I know what lie ahead... exceeded my expectations for a webpage because it is so much more than that. Upon visiting the site, I discovered a community for dyslexic students to learn more about their diagnosis, to connect with others and share their personal experiences. Even if you're not a member of the Learning Ally community, the website and resources available on there are free and accessible for all. Before reading further ahead, I encourage each of you to watch the short video below to see how far reaching Learning Ally's 1in5 Initiative is. 

So what does the 1 in 5 Initiative offer? 
  • To start there are bi-monthly student to student webinars about dyslexia related topics. These webinars are created by students and are geared for students. 
  • The Tips, Tools & Tech section offers information to promote self-advocacy and understand the impact it has on their success. Here, students can listen to inspirational testimonials from other dyslexic students and be given the tools to overcome stigmas and insecurities. Additionally,  students can learn about various assistive technology tools to support learning difficulties and view demonstrations of the tools in use. 
  • Videos and printed resources help explain what dyslexia is by listening to others share their feelings when first diagnosed and the experiences of their personal journey. 
  • The Share Your Story section allows students to share their own personal experiences in a safe and supportive community. 
  • Through the "Connect with Us" section, there are many ways to keep connected with the 1in5 Community by subscribing to the newsletter, signing up for text tips, participating in a student webinar and creating connections through social media! 
  • Additionally, there are resources for parents too through printed materials and online webinars. 
What is the YES! Program? 

Although only available currently in Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Utah, Learning Ally's YES! Program is an in-person program that pairs younger students with learning differences with an older student who is trained to help guide them through a series of goals. The purpose of YES! is to train students with learning differences to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, to help them build confidence and to provide them with the tools to become strong self-advocates. Each student is assigned a Youth Ambassador who will monitor member progress, act as a resource and provide guidance. Through the four annual events, your student will:
  • Build Self Esteem and Confidence
  • Receive Support and Suggestions
  • Expand Communication Skills
  • Learn About Dyslexia
  • Learn Self-Advocacy Skills
  • Build Friendships and Network
Parents will also have the opportunity to attend informational presentations at each event and will have the chance to network with other parents.

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