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"All hope abandon, ye who enter here."



During this period, at least one state-supported institution existed in every state. The number of residents increased from 25,000 to 50,000. The ideas of parole and institutional care were promoted. At their peak, public institutions housed approximately 4 percent of all people with mental retardation but consumed the vast majority of public funds for services.

By the mid-1920s, professional views of persons with disabilities changed. Superintendents, such as Fernald, who had spoken about the menace of feeblemindedness, began to see the positive results of education and community interaction for people with disabilities.

As Goddard stated in 1928: "The problem of the moron is a problem of education and training... feeblemindedness is not incurable... [and] the feebleminded do not generally need to be segregated in institutions... "

Industrial training at the Rome State School in  New York, ca. 1920

With hindsight, some professionals discovered that persons with disabilities did benefit from education and could function in the community.

The notion of intelligence testing was also challenged and shown to be highly subjective in measuring one's ability to function in society. Still, IQ scores became permanent labels for persons with disabilities.