A Brief History

The Reading Research Council was established in 1981 by Ronald D. Davis and Dr. Fatima Ali. Its purpose was to research and develop procedures for correcting reading problems. The research was based on a personal breakthrough Ron had made in December, 1980.

The Davis Dyslexia Correction Center was opened in 1982 in order to provide individualized correction programs to adults and children with learning disabilities.

Here is the story of Ron's breakthrough, and how Ron and Dr. Ali began working together.

In 1980, Ron was working as portrait sculptor, semi-retired after a successful career as a engineer and real estate investor. Despite his successes as an adult and a high IQ, he had been labeled mentally retarded as a child. He was born autistic, and did not learn to speak properly until his late teens. Then he struggled with severe dyslexia for another 20 years. At age 38, he still could not easily read a menu or a newspaper.

He still believed he was subhuman, with a "broken brain." He kept all of this hidden from his friends and colleagues, and even from his wife, Alice… until his breakthrough.

Ron says:

"My breakthrough came as a result of a chance observation and a simple realization. When I was drawing, sculpting or engaged in any artistic endeavor, my dyslexic symptoms would worsen. As an engineer, I realized that if the problem was structural, the symptoms would be consistent. So it couldn't possibly be a defect in my brain! It must be something I was doing. This led to a personal exploration of my own perception process and the discovery of what we now call orientation.

"On the day of my discovery, I went to a library. I pulled Treasure Island off a shelf, sat down and read it from cover to cover in a few hours. Well, almost. When I saw that I had reached the last page, 38 years of feeling less than human started dripping out of my eyes all over the book, so I had to close it. My entire self-perception had changed. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged to the human race.

"I wondered whether my discovery might work for others, so I began testing what I called the 'orientation procedure' with volunteers. It worked for them, too! Before long, Dr. Ali heard about it, and asked to meet with me."

Dr. Ali explains:

"When I heard about Ron, I was searching for answers for my eleven-year-old granddaughter. She was a mystery -- apparently intelligent but walled off in her own imaginary world and barely able to read or speak. I had tried sending her to some of the best private schools as well as schooling her at home, but she only became more frustrated and unresponsive. It was heartbreaking for me, an educator and psychotherapist, to see my own grandchild struggling and not be able to help. But I kept searching for answers.

"Soon after I met Ron, he came to my home and spent a couple of hours with her. What I saw was so unbelievable that it seemed like a miracle. There she was, actually reading words easily after only two hours. She made more progress in two hours than she had in all the years other people and I had worked with her. Of course, she still had a long way to go both academically and emotionally, but those hours with Ron opened the door to literacy and academic success for her.* I knew right then that Ron had discovered an answer, a key that no one else had.

"Ron asked me if I would help him make his work available through the public education system in California. I readily agreed. We contacted Wilson Riles, the California Superintendent of Education at that time. We went to Sacramento in July, 1981 for a meeting with one of Mr. Riles' chief assistants. He told us that unless there was a public demand for this type of therapy and research to validate it, it could not be implemented in the public schools. He suggested we set up a private counseling center, research the effectiveness of the Davis methods, and gather public support. Ron and I promptly established the Reading Research Council and made plans to publicize it."

Ron continues:

"In early 1982, I performed a live demonstration of the orientation procedure at a press conference at the San Francisco Press Club. Shortly after, I was asked to appear on an 11pm KGO Radio talk show hosted by Eric Barnes. There were so many calls from listeners that I stayed on the air for almost two hours answering questions. We had no office yet, so I gave out our home phone number. When I got home, Alice was on the phone frantically taking down numbers. Every time she hung up, it rang again. At 3am, people were still calling. Over the next few days, we received more than 700 calls.

"On April 24, 1982, we moved into our first offices just down the street from where we are today. Six people had already signed up and paid in full so we could rent and furnish the new Davis Dyslexia Correction Center. We arrived at 9am with a rented truck full of secondhand office furniture. Our first client, a college student named Chris, was waiting for us on the front steps. He said, 'I thought I'd help you move in. I can't wait to get started.'

"Back then, we didn't know how long it would take to complete a program. We promised a minimum two-year gain in one or more basic academic skills, based on pre and post-tests, given two weeks apart. Chris' post-test results after only two weeks were spectacular. He had gained six years in reading skills!"

Dr. Ali adds:

"We have come a long way since then. The Davis Program has been refined so it takes only five days, plus about 6-10 months of brief 'homework' sessions. Our research and experience shows that the Davis Program isn't only for dyslexics with reading and spelling problems. It can also address and correct difficulties with handwriting, coordination, math, and attention. Since the publication of The Gift of Dyslexia in 1994, we started training and licensing Davis Facilitators. Today we estimate that each year, at least 5,000 students all over the world are completing the Davis program, with a continued success rate of at least 97 percent.

"The best news for me, as an educator, is the work that Ron and Sharon Pfeiffer have done to develop Davis Learning Strategies® for primary grades. I hope that by 2010, it will be commonplace for youngsters to learn these tools in school throughout the USA and the world."

* Dr. Ali's granddaughter graduated high school as a member of the National Honor Society in 1990.

Copyright © 2001 by Davis Dyslexia Correction Center. All rights reserved.