April 11, 2011

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic Changes Name

Graphic of a broadcast tower, 'spreading the news'

On April 5th the WBRC received an e-mail from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) with some exciting news, RFB&D has decided to change their name. On April 11th, RFB&D will be changing their name to Learning Ally. In an attached letter, Mr. Andrew Friedman, President & CEO of RFB&D outlined some of the reasons behind the name change.

'Changing the name of an established institution such as RFB&D, with its rich history and tremendous network of donors, volunteers and other stakeholders, is not something we entered into lightly. Over the past year, we have worked closely with scores of key stakeholders – including students, parents, educators, board members, volunteers and funders – to define the future direction of the organization. Our research and focus groups revealed some major findings:

- Our users expressed a variety of issues with the RFB&D name. For our dyslexic members, the juxtaposition of letters and ampersand is very difficult to manage. And the most universal issue of all: our users don’t want to be typecast or labeled.

- Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic had fallen behind recent advances in technology, and was perceived by many in the education and assistive services world as a niche provider to a small group of individuals.

- The broader community of individuals in the U.S. who "learn differently" has grown to roughly 60 million or one in five individuals. A significant portion of these individuals are not visually impaired or dyslexic. Our current name limits our ability to reach the entire base of individuals who could benefit from our services.'

He continued stating,

'A natural evolution for an American institution: Recording for the Blind was founded in 1948, with a mission to provide equal access to the printed word. Decades later, we extended that mission to include access for people with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Now as Learning Ally, we position the organization to be even more inclusive, becoming a friend to people for whom access and reading are barriers to learning.

Students, parents and educators are already excited to see us providing them with access on mainstream technology like iPhones, iPads, MP3 players and home computers. Our future success will be grounded in a "user-focused" approach toward introducing new solutions and support services for specific populations of users, their parents and educators – very much including (but not limited to) recording for the blind, dyslexic and members with other needs.

Even as we change our name, our legacy of six decades continues. We will maintain strong citation of RFB&D in many areas of our service offerings. Our incredible volunteer base will continue recording books to help students succeed – even as we explore new ways to put them to work on behalf of all users with learning differences. We are extremely excited about the future and hope you will become a "Learning Ally" with us to help reach even more individuals with the right tools to deliver educational success.'

WBRC was fortunate to participate in a tour of the new RFB&D recording studio in Palo Alto, CA and learn more about the organization in March of 2011. RFB&D, now Learning Ally, is a service which records a wide variety of books and makes them available to persons who qualify free of charge. This service is used by many WBRC alumni and we wish the organization all the best as they transition to their new name, Learning Ally.

For a LINK to the new LEARNING ALLY website CLICK HERE


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