“Why can’t an intelligent child learn to read and spell as well as his peers instead of living with failure and the threat of adult illiteracy? If we are teaching the blind and the deaf, why can’t we reach these children?”  ~Mrs. Frances McGlannan 1962​

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"These children are as handicapped by the ignorance surrounding the problem, as by the problem itself."  

~Mrs. Frances McGlannan, 1962


A seven year old crushed by classic symptoms of dyslexia was the catalyst that sent Frances McGlannan to the public library looking for answers. Serendipity intervened when she found Dr. Samuel Orton’s original text. There in print was recognition of the unusual symptoms observed plus a rationale.

Appalled by the lack of information available, Frances McGlannan’s vision, boundless energy, and scientific bent went into high gear. Eight years of research and observation while tutoring at the University of Miami Reading Clinic, as well as study of professional European journals, resulted in the following:

  • development of new multisensory teaching methods with an associative component
  • adaptation of methods used to teach the blind and the deaf for teaching children challenged with dyslexia
  • creation and implementation of a linguistics curriculum, commercially unavailable at the time
  • establishment of an academically successful school with a unique scheduling system to accommodate the delivery of individualized teaching techniques
  • proof that multisensory techniques can be used effectively in a group setting
  • demonstrating that the child with dyslexia can achieve academic and personal success

In the mid 1960’s, Norman Cousins, professor, writer, and editor-in-chief of Saturday Review, developed a keen interest in McGlannan’s work. A cover story was published in Saturday Review followed by Time, Newsweek and other diverse publications. Approximately 15,000 requests for information were subsequently received. Additionally, Frances McGlannan made extensive audio-visual presentations at national and state conferences for educators, psychologists, and medical professionals. These presentations extended over a period of 18 years with high points in Boston, New York, Chicago, Memphis, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Mrs. McGlannan worked diligently across the United States and internationally to further the cause of children with learning disabilities. She was appointed to the Florida Advisory Committee for Exceptional Education for seven years and numerous statewide committees for 10 years. In addition, Frances McGlannan was appointed by the State of Florida to represent and speak for the parents of Florida during United States Senate hearings. These hearings resulted in the passage of the Expanded Handicapped Child Act. Following her two year tenure (1976-1977) as the President of Florida Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (ACLD), now known as Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), the Association Board established the Frances McGlannnan Scholarship. The Scholarship was awarded annually to a student pursuing graduate work in learning disabilities at any university within the Florida state system.

Frances McGlannan’s role in the establishment of the Journal of Learning Disabilities was a work of enduring value. At the request of Dr. Fineberg (National Institute of Mental Health) she met with Martin Topaz, owner of the Professional Press, with the objective to convince Mr. Topaz of the need for a journal in the new field of learning disabilities. Their meeting was a success, and the Journal of Learning Disabilities was established in 1967. Among Mrs. McGlannan’s many duties for the Journal of Learning Disabilities, was the establishment of an office in Geneva, Switzerland. After professional visits to seven European countries and the Soviet Union to explain the new journal to foreign professionals, she gained support for the journal’s editorial board. Frances McGlannan was editor of “Research of Interest” for six years while acting as advisor for the new journal. In the late 1970’s, the journal was sold to an educational publisher, Pro-Ed, and continues today.

During the 1980’s, reflecting the ethnic diversity in Florida, emphasis was on disseminating information to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Articles about dyslexia and McGlannan School’s teaching methods appeared in Buenhogar(Spanish version of Good Housekeeping) and Vanidades (similar to Vogue), as well as on Hispanic television documentaries for South America.

Frances McGlannan’s vision, dedication, and advocacy remains clear and successful to this day. Her legacy lives on through the entire McGlannan School staff and through the many children whose lives were, and will be, positively impacted.

Frances McGlannan’s achievements are recognized today in the foyer of the international Dyslexia Association Headquarters in Towson, Maryland.