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In many cases, the "normalization principle" came to mean smaller residential facilities amidst a complex of similar facilities.

According to the ILSMH in 1969, "The Principle of Normalization suggests a 'home-like' environment whenever possible, including cottages or 'small houses', home-like furnishings, easy access to the out-of-doors, opportunity for privacy and personal property, and maximum freedom for each resident."

In 1962, the Director of the New York ARC pointed out that these were quite similar to some of the concepts of institutions back in the 19th Century. For some, it was possible to conceive of much smaller centers being developed in the community and thus do away with institutions "as we now know them", at least for people labeled "trainable and educable."

Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Jerry Walsh, from The Arc of Minnesota quotes Bengt Nirje, Secretary General of the Swedish National Association for Mentally Retarded, as saying:

"The key is trying to achieve the same good standard of life for people with developmental disabilities as we want for people who live in the general society. Our aim is to create the conditions of life as similar or the same as for the rest of the population. You have to do it for human dignity and human decency."

"To Bridge the Gap"
Gerald F. Walsh traveled to several northern European countries to observe services for the people with developmentally disabilities.
Wolf Wolfensberger authored a chapter entitled "Normalizing Activation for the Profoundly Retarded and/or Multiply Handicapped" in An Alternative Textbook in Special Education (Edited by Burton Blatt, Douglas Biklen, and Robert Bogdan, 1977).  Wolf Wolfensberger recounts a trip to Scandinavia.
In preparation of the Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS) training by Wolf Wolfensberger and Linda Glenn, slides were taken of the leading edge living arrangements. These images are taken in Sweden at group homes that demonstrated typical home environments.

It is against this backdrop that the implications of major changes in federal funding can become clearer.