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

as by the problem itself." ~Mrs. Frances McGlannan, 1962

“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



     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. 

     Apalled 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 European professionals journals, resulted in the following:

  • The development of new multisensory teaching methods with an associative component.
  • Adaptation of methods used to teach the blind and the deaf to teaching dyslexics.
  • Production of a linguistics curriculum, commercially unavailable at the time.
  • Establishment of an academically successfully school with a unique scheduling system for the delivery of individualized teaching techniques and methods for each student.
  • Proof that multisensory techniques can be used effectively in a group setting.
  • Demonstrating that the dyslexic child can achieve success.

     Norman Cousins, while visiting South Florida, 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.

     Frances McGlannan made extensive audio-visual presentations at national and state conferences to educators, psychologists and medical personnel. These presentations extended over a period of 18 years with high points in Boston, New York, Chicago, Memphis, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

     Appointed to the Florida Advisory Committee for Exceptional Education for seven years and numerous statewide committees for 10 years, she worked diligently to further that cause of learning disabled children in the public school system. In addition, Frances McGlannan was appointed by the State of Florida to represent and speak for the parents of Florida at 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.

     A work of enduring value was McGlannan’s role in the establishment of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. 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 was established in 1967. In the late1970’s, the Journal was sold to an educational publisher, Pro-Ed, and continues today.

     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 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.

     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 teaching methods appeared in Buenhogar (Spanish version of Good Housekeeping) and Vanidades (similar to Vogue); on Spanish television documentaries for South America and in-house training of tutors from these countries.

     The vision of Frances McGlannan, as delineated in the initial quotation, remains clear and successful to this day through the dedication of Frances McGlannan herself and the entire McGlannan School staff.

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

Frances K. McGlannan (1919 - 2017)

(Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com)
​Frances K. McGlannan's Obituary on the Miami Herald

     McGLANNAN, FRANCES K., age 98, passed away Wednesday, December 20, 2017. She was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 15, 1919 and was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Frances dedicated the greater part of her life to the understanding and education of children with dyslexia, as well as to the education and support of their families. In 1958, Frances set out on a now historical quest into the world of the child with specific reading/language based learning difficulties, into the world of DYSLEXIA. Her goal was to meet the academic needs of every child, in an ungraded program, rather than the lockstep approach of traditional education. Utilizing her own academically creative energy and scientific bent, she employed specific multisensory techniques, previously reserved for the blind and deaf, to teach the dyslexic child. With the production of a total linguistic curriculum, unavailable commercially at the time, she founded McGlannan School in 1964. Proof that multisensory teaching techniques can be effectively adapted to the classroom was established. Frances was a hands- on director, ever researching, revising and formulating methods, overseeing the global development of intelligent students whom she encouraged to keep learning. She graciously mentored and shared her research with professionals in the field. McGlannan School is in its 54th year as it carries on her legacy of evidence-based methodology and the overall development of each child. Articles regarding her research and employment of specialized techniques have been published by the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Time, Newsweek, Saturday Review, Spanish language magazines and more. As a nationally recognized pioneer in the field of dyslexia, Frances was honored for her contributions by the International Dyslexia Association, in their national office in Towson, Maryland. Because of her extreme love of children, hard work and conviction, she has touched a countless number of lives. Frances received a double major, art and education, from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. She was a consummate student, a brilliant life-long learner and problem solver. She continued her education at the University of Miami determined to find answers about dyslexia. Frances was predeceased by her husband, Austin Joseph McGlannan, in 1996. They wed at the start of WWII which shaped the future of their loving and devoted marriage. Frances, who loved her family deeply, is survived by her son, Michael (Julia Fitzgerald) and daughter, Genevieve (Robert Shain), and grandsons, Austin James and Ryan Robert (Carmen), and great-grandson, Miles. Frances will be laid to rest at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. There will be a memorial service in Miami, Florida on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 7p.m. at Epiphany Catholic Church, 8235 S.W. 57th Ave. Miami, FL 33143.

     In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory can be made to either the Frances McGlannan Foundation Scholarships for Specialized Schools (www.francesmcglannanfoundation.org) or the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Foundation (mchf.org/mcglannan).

Scholarships for specialized schools

Frances K. McGlannan (1919 - 2017)