In the mid-1970s Lou Brown and his colleagues expanded our understanding of the implications of a functional definition. Brown challenged educators to reject the developmental model and instead use the criterion of ultimate functioning in the community to select skills based on current and future environments.
The term functional was the underpinning for a new curriculum model that promoted community access by targeting skills needed to function in daily life. By the late 1980s, strong consensus had emerged among professionals that curriculum should focus on age-appropriate functional skills.
A Deepening Understanding of Normalization
In the 1970s Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger was working with the National Institute on Mental Retardation in Canada. His writing and training material greatly expanded our understanding of the consequences of stigmatization and service practices that treat people with more or less dignity.
It had many impacts, but one was to focus attention on the systematic ways that societal and human service practices harder for them to develop their gifts and talents. Societal and human services practices can forge definitions of people as deviant, devalued, and discarded, or as people who are valued citizens.
The people who developed such concepts as person centered planning and self-determination were early participants in normalization training. Normalization, then Social Role Valorization, training continued in the 1980s through the Syracuse University Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry.