August 2, 2019
July 2, 2019
June 4, 2019
April 30, 2019
Meet our young volunteer, Seyun, who recently went on a trip to Buryatia, Russia, where she taught English to young kids. She and other high- schoolers coordinated the events for these children and they did a wonderful job. Read on to learn about our volunteer...
What do you do at Learning Ally?
I am a reader volunteer at the Literature Community in Learning Ally. I first started out as a listener at the Textbook Community, though, after my first training as a Textbook listener. Then gradually, I became a textbook reader, and then slowly transitioned into the literature community.
How long have you volunteered at Learning Ally?
I embarked on my journey as a volunteer at Learning Ally from June 2018, so it has been a little over a year since I volunteered at Learning Ally.
What made you want to volunteer at Learning Ally?
Currently, I am a rising senior in high school. During the first three years of high school, I have been participating in an Asia Pacific Forensics Competition, competing in Oral Interpretation and Solo Acting. I have always known about Learning Ally after my research online because I knew I wanted to assist those who struggle with education and words. By experiencing the power of words through my competitions, I longed to share the burden of those who grapple with words in their daily lives. In my prospective college, I want to study cognitive-linguistic science, psychology, and possibly education, but I did not start my Learning Ally volunteering until 2018 because I did not yet feel qualified to listen and read the books. However, after receiving two champions and one silver for Oral Interpretation and one champion for Solo Acting, I finally felt ready, and thus began my volunteer work at Learning Ally. In addition, meeting Hannah, my dyslexic friend, in January of 2018 influenced me to look into Learning Ally more and start volunteering.
What's something people at LA don't know about you?
I am comparably a newcomer at Learning Ally, so there are various things I could uncover about myself. One thing most people at Learning Ally do not know about me is that I am Korean-living in China, seventeen, and am left-handed (that looks like more than one, but they are all descriptions to the "Korean," so technically, it is one!).
What do you like most about volunteering at LA?
Working at Learning Ally has taught me so much: time management, communication, passion, etc. The one thing I absolutely LOVE about Learning Ally is its volunteers. Although I have not been volunteering for a long time, every single person I communicated with throughout my one-year adventure has been helpful, encouraging, and polite. By knowing that I am volunteering with people who share the same passion of education for those who might be excluded in our everyday lives, I am able to both mature as a reader and a person. Whenever I was faced with a problem, I had people to talk to, who never failed to provide me with a solution or suggestion. Whenever I felt tired of reading the same line for the one-thousandth time, the emails from the volunteers reminded me of the smiles I will be able to bring to the students' faces, thereby, motivating me to do better. Without these volunteers, I would not have made it thus far, and I am delighted to be part of the community, and possibly that helper for other volunteers in the future.
Do you have any advice for prospective LA volunteers?
What is your favorite audiobook/ book if you have any?
This is a difficult question; I have so many favorite books! My three absolute favorites are Tuesdays With Morrie- Mitch Albom, The Neverending Story-Michael Ende, and The Shack-William P. Young.
What do you do during your free time?
Read, watch movies, go to the gym. Books and movies for the soul + mind, and gym for the body. I adore food, so I like to think that by working out, I can excuse myself for my eating.
What is your favorite movie or TV series?
My favorite movie is Inception directed by Christopher Nolan. The whole concept of the mind and dreams inside a dream completely stunned me when I first watched it in freshman year, with my sister. I have watched the movie seven times now and it infallibly shocks me every time.
Hi, my name is Christina Trejos and I am on the Production team. My job responsibilities have me working closely with both the Literature and Instructional Text Communities as well as the Education Solutions Department. I work on title review and selection to determine which titles should get selected for recording, book acquisition and book record processing which includes how we will be recording the title (Classic audio or Voicetext format).
Furthermore, I am the liaison with our conversion vendor in India, who processes our XML files for all VOICEtext projects. In addition, I support the priority management process for VOICEtext projects in the Literature Community and Classic Audio projects in the Textbook community.
How long have you worked at Learning Ally?
I have been with Learning Ally, formerly known as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic for 18 years. I started out as a part-time employee working second shift hours to quickly becoming a full-time employee. During those years, my job roles have evolved as our organization shifted from audiobooks on tapes and CDs to digital downloads.
What made you want to work at LA?
At the time that I started working for LA, I was only looking for a part-time job since I had been at home with my youngest son for the past 3 years. I quickly became excited about the mission, our members and all of the people that I was able to work with so I looked for a full-time position. I am happy to say that I have enjoyed working at LA for the past 18 years.
What's something most people at LA don't know about you?
My family and I have spent many years volunteering for animal rescues fostering over 40 dogs until they found their forever home. It is very hard to work with animals and not want to take them all home with you. I, myself, have three dogs and two of them were foster failures (failure in the best way possible since they immediately became part of the family).
What do you like most about working at LA?
I love our mission and the members that we serve. There is no better feeling than being a part of a team that is able to produce an audiobook for students/members to read with their friends or classmates.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging part of my job is not always being able to produce every member’s request for a book when they need it. I am excited for the day when there are enough volunteers to serve all our members.
In the little bit of free time that I have, I enjoy spending time with my family. We enjoy traveling to the Smoky Mountains in the summer. I also enjoy going to the beach, local wineries and country music concerts.
My name is Abigail, and I’m part of the production staff (specifically literature) at LA. My job responsibilities include a mix of things: I oversee the QA process of our already existing titles--looking for ways to make the books we already have recorded even better, or if they need to be re-recorded--, interfacing with volunteers in the process of narrating and listening to literature titles, and creating conventions and processes surrounding graphic novel image descriptions for blind/visually impaired students.
It's been just over three years that I’ve worked with the organization, splitting my time between production of our audiobooks, as well as coordinating our virtual mentoring program for visually impaired/blind college students in our College Success Program. Actually, if you include the fall semester I worked part-time as a mentor, October will be four years with the organization.
Why did you choose to work at Learning Ally?
Initially, I was just interested in giving back as a mentor for the College Success Program. Opportunities eventually opened up for me to coordinate the mentoring program, as well as to lend my skills with audio production. My bachelors is in music and audio recording, and because of a lot of experience with our College Success Program students, I am now pursuing my masters in social work.
What's something most people at Learning Ally don't know about you?
In March of 2012, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail with a group of friends and my former guide dog, Alexa. If given the time and money, I would consider doing a through hike.
In my free time, I occasionally pick out popular songs or practice classical music on my upright piano, affectionately dubbed Barb, and I’m a long-distance runner. Currently, I am training for a half marathon in September.
What do you like most about working at Learning Ally?
Our mission, the volunteers, and my colleagues. Getting to see how all of our work impacts students is incredibly rewarding.
What is your favorite audiobook/book, if you have any?
It's always hard to pick just one! For reading, via braille or synthetic speech, “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake,” by Aimee Bender, “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Bronte, and a commercially produced audiobook I really enjoy is the “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer.
What is your favorite movie or TV series?
Gilmore Girls. The dialogue and cultural references are priceless.
Kit: my preferred method of transportation in NYC
Learning Ally volunteer Bernie Strauss appeared on NBC 5 Chicago on an interview about his experience as a volunteer with Learning Ally. It was broadcasted on June 26 and 27.
The segment highlights the volunteer as a retired geneticist, who narrates science textbooks for Learning Ally. Bernard has volunteered for more than 9.5 years with us and transitioned from studio to virtual.
The segment also mentions Daniela, an LA solution user who is a senior majoring in Microbiology who has used the books recorded by Bernard and other LA volunteers.
To watch Learning Ally volunteer Bernie Strauss and Daniela, turn on NBCTV5 last evening click on this link or cut and paste it into your browser
TV Segment & Interview - Click here
Update for this week: Our readers increased to 209,928 this week – with 46,256 at frequency. Pages read increased by 65% over last year for school readers!
I hope you enjoy the video!
The Literature team completed 74 Books in May! Thank you for the hours of narrating, listening, teamwork and talent that makes this possible!
My name is Kevin Ziegler. I am the Digital Audio Coordinator with Learning Ally. In other words, I’ m the “audio guy”. I am in charge of QA (Quality Control). Basically, I handle all the audio as it is completed. In other terms, I strive to clean up and enhance all the audio. Lastly, through this blog, I was hoping to let everyone into my world and explain a bit about what happens in “post.”
What is “Post- Production”?
My primary focus is to level all the files across the entire book- which allows them to play smoothly without noticeable volume fluctuations. I also need to remove all the extra noise that can sometimes be introduced from different recording environments. After all of that, I “EQ” each title to best enhance the audio that is there--balancing the sonic frequencies to make it sound “good” to the ear.
What do I utilize?
I use a program called Izotope RX7, which is an industry-standard audio editing and mastering tool. This program allows me to batch process (work with many titles all at once to save time) and customizes different options for dealing with common recurring audio issues.
Is every title treated the same way?
Easiest answer is no. Most "classic audio" titles (textbooks and vocational-type books) are handled in the same fashion. As for the Voicetext, I listen to a sample from each book when it’s completed, and make a decision then about how to treat it, pulling from my different “recipes” as needed.
What are the most common issues we encounter?
Mouse clicks, background noise, plosives (popping sounds on certain letters, esp. P’s and B’s), sibilance (harsh S sounds), electrical noise, & poor recording environments.
Setting a Proper Level:
I generally recommend that the light gray area of the Easybooks window be filled up with the level being set.
That being said, there isn't a precise min and max level. My suggestion is to always avoid any red in the recording level. Digital audio has a tendency to distort at those high levels. The other side if a level is so low it appears as only a blip in the window, it is more than likely much too low. I sincerely hope all this information makes sense. Also, if something looks or sounds wrong to you, point it out to the project lead.
Important takeaway: While the tools I use are indeed very powerful and beneficial, I’m sorry to say, it cannot fix everything. This is especially true when we factor in time limitations and volume of titles we produce--all with our efficient-but-small production staff. That is why it is important to have the best possible audio signal at its source. I hope these answers help deepen your understanding of our process. If you have any questions, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you. Thanks again, for all your commitment and dedication towards Learning Ally.
The Literature Community completed 56 Books in April! Thank you all for helping us record these books.
Books Completed in May, 2019
Books Completed in April, 2019