In the span of less than 25 years Isabelle Liberman won wide acclaim for her contributions to knowledge about reading disability. Her work has influenced ways of thinking about the nature of the problem and ways of working with children and older people who experience unusual difficulty in learning to read. These introductory comments will recount some of the milestones in the development of Professor Liberman's ideas about the causes of reading difficulties.
After receiving her doctorate in psychology at Yale in 1946, Isabelle Liberman worked as a part-time clinician during the years of rearing the three Liberman children. During those years she worked chiefly in child guidance clinics, where she gained practical experience in the diagnostic study of children with learning disabilities. In 1960 she joined the staff of the Children's Hospital in Newington, Connecticut, which had one of the first learning disability diagnosis and treatment programs in the country. Soon thereafter, Liberman was to become well known as a learning disabilities diagnostician. But she was dissatisfied, partly because she realized that diagnosis and remedial practice, even at their best, lacked underpinnings in research and theory. Today, happily, that is beginning to change, and the change is due in no small part to Liberman's efforts.
In 1966 Liberman accepted an invitation to make a break with her clinical past and pursue a new career in research and teaching in the School of Education at the University of Connecticut. With support from a program development grant provided by the Bureau of the Handicapped of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, she designed a new graduate program in learning disabilities. The program she founded trained scores of masters' degree students who were much sought after in the schools of