Ron Cole: sad news

29/07/2021, 01:56 pm

All of us at AchieveAbility have been shocked and saddened to hear of Ron Cole’s death in the Covid-19 pandemic. We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

I first met Ron shortly after his arrival in the UK from the USA, when he phoned me up out of the blue more than a decade ago, asking if I would evaluate his SuperReading course, because he had found that it appeared to be particularly successful with dyslexic readers. This started several years of constructive collaboration leading to over 1000 dyslexic university students in both the UK and Italy to more than double their reading effectiveness.

Ron’s achievement in developing SuperReading is quite remarkable. He took a big picture view of reading; identifying what it is that highly skilled readers do, and finding ways of enabling all readers to adopt their strategies. His astonishing energy and ability to focus on what matters underpinned his achievements. At the heart of SuperReading, is Ron’s ‘magic sauce’- Eye-Hopping. This practical approach to learning the skill of understanding multiple groups of words without the need to take the time to ‘say’ them, also had the hidden benefit of handling visual processing difficulties while completely side-stepping phonics. The results speak for themselves.

In typical fashion, Ron went back to basic principles when thinking about how to measure reading skills and used his concept of ‘reading effectiveness’, defined as speed x comprehension. All too often, reading tests focus either on sounding out (without checking comprehension), or reading speed (without checking comprehension), or comprehension (without checking speed). If you measure the wrong things, you get ‘wrong results’. Ron’s genius was to combine the measures of speed and comprehension into a single measure of reading effectiveness, which allows us to more accurately measure real reading progress. Students on SuperReading courses are instructed to prioritise comprehension while improving their speed. Both usually go up, but reading effectiveness always goes up. Ron famously insisted on a money back guarantee if students did not double their reading effectiveness score. Only 3 students (all of whom had significant visual impairment) were ever able to claim a refund since Ron started SuperReading in the USA in 1996.

Like most neurodivergent innovations, Ron’s SuperReading cuts across the ‘scientific consensus’ around the teaching of reading. The fact that it works so dramatically is unquestionable. In my view, the proudest legacy of Ron’s SuperReading is that it demonstrates beyond doubt that dyslexia is not a reading problem. If a group of dyslexic readers can learn to read more effectively than their teachers in as little as 4 days, how can it be? It is a teaching problem, where we are expected to learn through bottom up rule based processes, instead of a neurodivergent friendly, holistic, top-down, meaningful approach.

Ron was starting to win prizes for the development of SuperReading and I am sure there will be more to come. He deserves a significant place in the history of reading, dyslexia and neurodiversity.

Dr Ross Cooper

1 comment
  1. In the past 2 years Ron has been helping me to promote his great technique to schools and workplaces with tremendous success. His enthusiasm and energy was infectious and gave people enormous self belief and confidence and he always delivered on his promise. I was one of those who took up his challenge to double my reading in less than 10 days and sure enough I didn’t need convincing.

    Ron’s passion was to improve the chances of those struggling with reading and help them succeed in whatever they do. He wanted to prove that reading should no longer be a barrier for people in work and education. After experiencing the results of his SuperReading I had committed myself to helping him achieve his ambition in any ways I could. I will work towards making sure his legacy will continue and his work will positively impact the lives many in the future.

    I am very fortunate to have met and worked with Ron and I will miss him greatly on this journey