The concept of normalization was first introduced in Scandinavia in the 1960s as an attempt to improve the lives of people who were then referred to as the mentally handicapped in Europe and the mentally retarded in North America. The vast majority of this group were segregated from society, either living in large institutions or isolated within their own families. The basic idea behind the concept was that services should be aimed enabling these people to lead ordinary lives living, learning and working in their own communities. While this idea seemed sensible and humanitarian and was quickly seized upon by politicians, policy-makers and professionals worried by emerging scandals over abuse in long-stay institutions, it also became somewhat controversial. The idea somehow got translated into policies aimed at trying to ‘make people normal’ with all that implies. So controversial did this become that in North America the basic idea was changed into giving people ‘normal social roles’ and normalization itself became social role valorization (SRV).
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