Skip to main content

Zoom Text:

The principle of normalization began to be applied to the world of work in earnest. Lou Brown's definition of real work is a prime example – work that if done by a person without disabilities would earn a wage.

The concept of "natural proportions" is another – that people with disabilities are present in work environments in the same proportion as their presence in the general population. Brown's work in the Madison school system underscored the impact of effective support in the school years for more successful outcomes for adults in employment.

Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
Photo of Marc Gold
Marc Gold
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Marc Gold's values and training programs opened the eyes of many to the employment possibilities for people with severe disabilities. During the late 1960s, Marc Gold was a special education teacher in East Los Angeles. He began to formulate a conceptual framework of instruction based on a few fundamental beliefs:

  • His students with severe disabilities had much more potential than anyone realized.
  • All people with disabilities should have the opportunity to live their lives much like everyone else.
  • Everyone can learn if we can figure out how to teach them.

In the 1970s, Gold developed and presented three day workshops across North America on this new systematic training approach he called "Try Another Way." This system provided an organizational framework, instructional strategies, and a value base useful for teaching persons with even the most severe disabilities to perform sophisticated tasks or competencies.

At the time, people who were merely willing to have people with the most severe disabilities in their programs were considered innovative. Gold felt that this simply was not good enough.  He felt that all persons could grow and have dignity and control of their lives.

Photo of Marc Gold
Marc Gold
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Gold was one of the first to question the widespread use of behavior modification strategies for training purposes. He felt that an emphasis on reinforcers, even positive ones, led to an unbalancing of the relationship so necessary for respect between trainers and learners.

The concept of individualized, negotiated jobs developed out of Gold's strategy of breaking down a complete job into teachable tasks that match the skills, needs and preferences of people with disabilities, then forming the tasks in a newly defined job.