The Early Years of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in U.S. Schools Purpose This article focuses on various aspects of the beginnings of speech therapy offerings in America’s public schools. It traces the pioneering professionals and significant milestones associated with diagnostic and therapy practices during the late 19th and early 20th century. The aim is to uncover the neglected history of public ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2010
The Early Years of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in U.S. Schools
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith Felson Duchan
    State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Contact author: Judith Felson Duchan, University of Buffalo, Communicative Disorders and Sciences,130 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14214. E-mail: duchan@buffalo.edu.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / School-Based Settings / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2010
The Early Years of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in U.S. Schools
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2010, Vol. 41, 152-160. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0102)
History: Received September 8, 2008 , Accepted January 25, 2009
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2010, Vol. 41, 152-160. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0102)
History: Received September 8, 2008; Accepted January 25, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose This article focuses on various aspects of the beginnings of speech therapy offerings in America’s public schools. It traces the pioneering professionals and significant milestones associated with diagnostic and therapy practices during the late 19th and early 20th century. The aim is to uncover the neglected history of public school speech therapy practices and to show how the practices of yesterday compare with those of today.

Method Historical documents were analyzed to discover the key contributors and locations of the first public school speech-pathology programs. The analysis also traces the populations that were served and the professional training of the early practitioners, as well as their therapy and service delivery practices.

Conclusions Between 1895 and 1921, most of the major cities in the United States had hired their first speech clinicians. Between 1921 and 1930, many cities expanded their programs and were hiring supervisors to coordinate these services. These early clinicians carved out some now-familiar practices. Comparing what they did and when and how they did it with today’s practices can offer school clinicians of today a sense of their own history and identity. Such an understanding can also provide insights about some of today’s taken-for-granted practices.

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