About AVKO >
The History of AVKO
AVKO Turns 40
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
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.
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.
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
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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