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The History of AVKO
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AVKO is a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching dyslexics how to read, write, spell and type. AVKO develops books and materials utilizing the multi-sensory approach (Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic, Oral) that can be used with anyone and by anyone. AVKO materials and methods are all common-sense and effective with those we have worked with: young and old, dyslexic and non-dyslexic.

In 1969 I was stripped of my 12th grade College Prep English classes for what I perceived as punishment for my union organizing activities and was assigned to teach the lowest level students. It was then I first learned that these “problem” high school students were reading at or below the 3rd grade level.

During this period, before taking all of the required courses to be a certified reading instructor and to qualify for a doctorate in reading, I discovered my students had little or no training in phonics. So, if a student misread a word such as “advice” I would have him write the pattern i-c-e a number of times and then have him change ice to lice to slice and ice to rice and price, etc. This method was working until one day the word was “technique.” I wrote down –ique, and my mind went blank. I couldn’t come up with antique, unique, boutique, Angelique, Mozambique, or even pique. I was saved by the bell. I went to the Dean of Instruction and told him that teaching by word families had been around for centuries and that there just had to be a book containing all the word families in English. He agreed. I told him to forget about requisitioning such a book. If he could locate it, I would buy it out of my own pocket. He called the major libraries including the Library of Congress and found out that no such book existed.

One day in the Teachers’ Lounge when I was complaining about the fact that there wasn’t any such, one of my buddies said to me, “McCabe, you’re a linguist. You got a whole summer coming up. Why don’t you do it?” I was just ignorant enough to think I could do it and stubborn enough that once I got into compiling the word families, I wouldn’t quit. Of course, I didn’t complete the task in one summer. I did complete the task and it is now called the Patterns of English Spelling, Volumes 1-10.

The first tentative version I simply called AVKO Word Families which I copyrighted. Shortly thereafter I created and copyrighted Reading via Typing and AVKO Word Families in Sentence Context and then I had them registered.

 In June, 1974 David O’Connell, Elmer Whaley, Jr., Alberta Smith, Thomas Scott, and I formed the AVKO Educational Research Foundation, Inc. AVKO was granted non-profit tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 membership organization in 1975.  On November 9, 1975 I sold and transferred sold the four copyright registrations to AVKO. The transfers of my copyrights in the compilation, “The Works” to AVKO were completed on 02/17/76, and are recorded at vol 1575 page 141 – 144 of the Register of Copyrights. 

 When the copyrights were transferred, they were evaluated by James Rutledge (Genesee Intermediate District) as worth $992,500.00.

After establishing AVKO I continued to teach students how to read and spell at Flint Northwestern High School, Zimmerman Junior High, The Flint Alternative Junior High, and at the Michigan Regional Juvenile Detention Center. All the while I was teaching, I was also as an unpaid volunteer actively running the AVKO Educational Research Foundation and developing and refining my materials and techniques

In 2001, AVKO survived a fire which destroyed most of the office and production departments. The computers with the original books and essential information were saved.

By the time I was 60, I began searching for possible publishers for the AVKO materials because I had already had one heart attack. After I my second heart attack and open heart surgery at age 62, I increased my efforts. Although offers were made by others, they did not meet the board’s criteria. After my 3rd heart attack in 2006 at age 73, I was told that more surgery was out of the question and that I would have to rely on blood thinners and other medications.  Consequently, I continued looking for a possible replacement publisher.


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