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Assistive Media was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1996 by David Erdody as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and with volunteer readers began producing and distributing spoken-word recordings of otherwise inaccessible materials on audio cassette to participating libraries of The Library of Congress-National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Soon after, with the advent of online digital audio formats such as RealAudio and MP3 files, direct distribution of recordings shifted to an Assistive Media web site. In 1999, Assistive Media was awarded The Streamers Progressive Award, sponsored by RealNetworks, Inc., as the best nonprofit web site of the year.
Assistive Media has produced over 1000 audio recordings of in-depth titles of mostly serious non-fiction from mainstream periodicals, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books, and is considered one of the longest continuously running Internet-based nonprofit services. In 2011, Assistive Media began recording full-length unabridged books for online delivery to libraries that specifically serve people with disabilities.