Diana Hanbury King, Dyslexia Pioneer and Champion, Has Died

The learning and thinking differences community is mourning the death of Diana Hanbury King, a pioneer and champion in the field of dyslexia. She was one of the most influential Orton–Gillingham practitioners in history. King died in her home on June 15. She was 90.

Throughout her career, King was dedicated to teaching and working with struggling learners. She trained and mentored many educators, and authored over a dozen books and teaching tools.

King, who was born in England, first worked as an educator in Ruzawi, in what is now Zimbabwe. While teaching there, she visited an uncle and his family. She eventually realized that her uncle and his daughters had dyslexia.

That job and the visit to his farm—named Kildonan—sparked a lifelong commitment to meeting the needs of students with learning challenges. In 1969, she co-founded the Kildonan School for students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities. Prior to that, in 1955, she started Dunnabeck, a summer camp in Pennsylvania for students with dyslexia. Diana served as the program’s director for 35 summers.

Her important work didn’t stop there. King was also a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Orton–Gillingham Practitioners & Educators and a member of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Her vision has also been the driving force behind many other schools, camps and training programs around the world, including the Diana Hanbury King Academy for training teachers in Australia.

In 2013, King received the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, she was given the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.

King’s legacy lives on through the countless people her work impacted. She will be remembered for many things, including her devotion to students and her high expectations of her colleagues.

“It was rare to win an argument with Diana. You needed to come prepared, and sometimes with research done, usually to find that she was correct in her initial position,” IDA said in an official statement. “Even so, she gave of herself selflessly to her students and her trainees, never unwilling to share her time and advice, her suggestions, and her passion for teaching.”

Orton–Gillingham is a highly regarded approach to teaching reading that uses multisensory instruction. If your child is a struggling reader, learn about multisensory techniques that can help.

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Photo credit: Susie van der Vorst, Camp Spring Creek


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