How people with print disabilities can get my books and many others for FREE
Wow, what an honor! The organization Learning Ally has recorded both my books (For the Children and The Power of Dyslexic Thinking) for its audio library.
Having my books available through Learning Ally brings my struggle with a print disability full circle. In the 1970s, this organization began to serve an increasing number of people who had learning disabilities, and I was one of them. I received my textbooks in audio format as part of my Individual Education Plan in school.
Now, my books will be available to people just like me through Learning Ally. The old Hair Club for Men commercial comes to mind: "I'm not only the president, but I'm also a client." I am not only an author, but I'm also a client!
You can imagine my delight when I received an email saying my books had been approved for recording. I was doubly delighted when I was asked to record an introduction for each book. Learning Ally has recording studios around the country utilizing a volunteer force of more than 5,000 people who donate over 332,000 hours annually to recording books. I was invited to the studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, for my recording session.
About a month after my invitation to record the introductions, my speaking schedule landed me within 60 miles of Charlottesville. I emailed Mary Ann, my contact at the studio, and asked if we could schedule my recording session for March 9 at 4:30 p.m., and she agreed. In preparation for the session, I called her on the hour drive to the studio and asked her what she wanted to accomplish during the session.
Mary Ann replied that she just wanted me to read the introductions to my books. With that, my heart jumped into my throat. It's true that I am the author of the material, but a ghostwriter wrote the books, and I read on a fifth-grade level! I then found myself having a slight out-of-body experience. I heard myself replying, "Oh! I can't do that. I can't read."
Mary Ann sounded shocked. "You can't read!" she said. It was in that moment that I realized she was thinking of me as an author, but not as an author with dyslexia. Mary Ann, being a consummate professional, recovered faster than I did from the shock. She said, "When you get here, we will figure it out."
I hung up the phone and did what I always do when dyslexia gets the better of me. I called my momma! When Mom answered, I asked her, "Do you have copies of my books handy?" She said she did, and I told her that we had less than an hour for me to try to memorize the introductions. Mom immediately started reading them to me. An hour later, I felt pretty good about the 133-word introduction to For the Children. On the other hand, the 833-word introduction to The Power of Dyslexic Thinking was not going to happen.
I arrived at Learning Ally and Mary Ann had assessed the situation just as I had. She asked if I could read the short introduction to For the Children and record a statement of introduction for The Power of Dyslexic Thinking. So, the plan was set.
The volunteer production assistant assigned to me must have been the patron saint for patience because it took me a full two hours and thirty minutes to read 133 words and dictate a 30-second introduction. By the time we were done, I was worn out, but she was still smiling and congratulating me on a good job.
My work is now done, and it is free to individuals with documented print disabilities, such as a learning disability, visual impairment, or other physical disability.
Learning Ally Individual Memberships are free. For more information, click this link Learning Ally, or call the Membership Services Department at 800-221-4792.
A gift from one dyslexic to another,