Learning Ally, a 68-year-old nonprofit serving individuals with learning and visual disabilities, announced that it has bestowed its highest award to Wesley Brooks of Metuchen, New Jersey. Brooks is one of six students from across the U.S. who received scholarship awards and traveled with their families last month to be honored at the organization’s National Achievement Awards Gala celebration in Denver, Colorado.
Brooks is visually impaired with limited peripheral vision, and he also has mild cerebral palsy. Despite living with two handicaps, he has been an active and vocal leader in a distinguished list of school and community based initiatives – and he is keenly interested in advocacy for people with disabilities. He graduated in January from Monmouth University and is currently exploring career options in support of people who have disabilities like blindness.
“Learning Ally first intersected with me when I entered high school,” Brooks recalls. “It not only helped me to graduate and increase my independence, but it became a lifelong tool that I will use the rest of my life, from college and high school textbooks to recreational reading. It’s a way for me to be a part of the world and achieve what once was not very possible.”
Brooks aspires one day to become a high school English teacher and inspire a wide range of students to discover their capacity to make significant differences in the lives of others. “The world is full of interesting information, and just because one has a visual or print disability does not mean he should give up,” he says. “Partly because I have a disability, but really *despite* my disability it’s so important, even if you can make an impact on one person, that you do it and you do it well, because you’ll always be remembered for doing that.”
View a brief video profile of Wesley Brooks.
About the National Achievement Awards
Since 1959, Learning Ally has honored exceptional students who are blind or visually impaired through its privately endowed Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement (SAA) Awards for college seniors and beyond. Hundreds of students apply for these prestigious awards each year and are selected by committees of Learning Ally volunteers, board members, parents, educators, donors and staff. Students are recognized for their academic excellence, extraordinary leadership, and service to others; and they have thrived on their education paths thanks in part to their extensive use of accessible educational content and assistive technology provided by Learning Ally.
NOTE: Applications for this year’s scholarship awards are open until May 31 for college student members of Learning Ally who are blind or visually impaired. For more information, visit https://LearningAlly.org/naa.
About Learning Ally
Founded in 1948, Learning Ally supports K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to dyslexia, blindness or visual impairment, and other disabilities. The organization hosts live and virtual events for families and teachers; provides instructive webinars led by experts as well as peer-to-peer sessions led by students; personal consultations for parents; and professional development workshops for educators. Learning Ally’s collection of 82,000 human-narrated audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded by students using their smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information visit www.LearningAlly.org.