Although much uncertainty still remains for the near-future and fall in regards to school closings, perhaps the single most important thing you can do to avoid your student falling behind this summer and fall is to qualify them for free audiobooks and ebooks that can help enjoy accessing texts while improving their fluency at the same time.
In the US, students who may have previously had access to audiobooks and ebooks through school – now may be cut off from these great resources paid for by the federal government. If you don’t live in the US or don’t qualify, you may still access their over 800,000 ebooks for less that $1 per week.
If you have been previously identified as having a “learning disability” (this includes dyslexia by their criteria), then filling in this brief form and signature by a certifying individual will qualify you for these free resources.
Their statement about certifying individuals:
“Appropriate certifying experts may differ for different disabilities. In the case of blindness and visual impairments, an appropriate certifier may be a physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist; in the case of a perceptual disability, a neurologist, learning disability specialist (a teacher with this type of certification is an example), or psychologist with a background in disabilities may be the most qualified certifying professional. A social worker with direct knowledge of your circumstances or a federal or state agency that maintains registries of qualified people with disabilities for benefits purposes may provide certification. If you are a college or university student, your school’s Disability Student Services staff may provide certification.”
If you have not yet been formally identified, you may be able to be screened at certified through the NEUROLEARNING App which is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The cost is $39.99 and includes a full report of results as well as Bookshare certification if you qualify. If you are qualified for Bookshare, then you can also qualify for the human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally. Learning Ally’s program is currently discounted due to coronavirus (COVID-19) to $99 per year.
Individuals may also be able to be certified wit in-person or remote professional assessments by psychologists or reading specialists.
There now is substantial research literature supporting the benefits of audiobooks for individuals with a reading disability. Being able to listen or listen in addition to reading text, provides access to higher-level texts and information that otherwise might not be possible. The use of audiobooks not only provides increased access but also improves reading fluency and reading accuracy as students acquire more words through print than if they had to rely on eyes alone. A study by Milani et al (2009) found that teens and pre-teens allowed to use audiobooks with reading showed “significant improvement in reading accuracy, with reduced unease and emotional–behavioral disorders, as well as an improvement in school performance and greater motivation and involvement in school activities.”