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In the early twentieth century, public schools in California were in a period of transition. Population growth due to industrialization, urbanization and immigration placed increased pressures on existing schools to rethink the existing system. These increased demands combined with the goals of the Progressive Movement, created an opening for educators to make significant strides in the development of the local and national education systems. Questions regarding the education of children with disabilities began to arise.

Mabel Farrington Gifford:

Mabel Farrington Gifford was known for her successes in the correction of stuttering and in 1915 opened a speech clinic in San Francisco, California. This clinic was one of the first opportunities for people with speech disorders in the state of California. She was invited to present her instructional techniques at the Panama-Pacific exposition and in 1916, the San Francisco Board of Education invited her to create and organize a speech correction program for the city’s public schools. This district-wide program also led to her insistence on a formalized training program for instructors working within the public schools. By 1922, the California State Board formalized the “Correction of Speech Defects and Disorders” credential according to Gifford’s specifications.

According to Gifford, speech is a skill, and it was important for students and clients to master it in order to be successful in business or other endeavors. She pushed for quality speech education in high schools, because being able to speak with "purity" and clarity was important.

She was most well known for her research and work in stammering (stuttering.) She argued that stammering could be cured with psychological adjustment, rather than the belief that stammering was a result of purely physical causes. She also believed that disturbances in the home have a major influence on what she referred to as “nervous” speech disorders.