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A New Perspective Emerges – An Emphasis on Personhood and Development

In 1959 Danish law incorporated the principle of normalization. N.E. Bank-Mikkelsen, Director of Mental Retardation Services in Denmark defined normalization as "letting the mentally retarded obtain an existence as close to the normal as possible".

Bengt Nirje, the Secretary General of the Swedish Association for Retarded Children expanded the idea to the quality of life experienced by children and adults. He argued that people had rights.

Normalization means… living in normal housing in a normal neighborhood.

Not in a large facility with 20, 50 or 100 other people because you are retarded.

And not isolated from the rest of the community.

Normal locations and normal size homes will give residents better opportunities for successful integration with their communities.

As people from North America visited services in Scandinavia, they learned that people who were seen as "severely and profoundly retarded" could learn things and live in ways thought impossible in North America.

N. E. Bank-Mikkelson