Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Bengt Nirje on Normalization

Produced by David Goode / The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Produced in 1993.

Self Determination and People First

Bengt Nirje: Then we come over then to the right of self-determination, the right to be listened to, to be heard, and to express yourself; to have the groups, to have the clubs; to have the right as citizens, to form your own associations, to form your own clubs, and have a say so; the right to be a citizen and the right to take part in the legislative process as a citizen. And that was in the background of the People First.

So I started the first club in 1965 and there were several clubs. And we had the first Swedish national meeting for twenty persons in 1968. And we had a larger one in 1970. And they formed their own after [Inaudible] and then all hell broke loose [Inaudible]. And those people were so upset. And they say "They can't think. They can't think. That's dangerous. We have to stop them [Inaudible] control."

[Inaudible] in British Columbia, Canada. They have people, young people have started to act on their own and started a movement called People First. And I was called in Sweden and cooperated on that. And one of the leading persons coming out from that was Barbara Good.

And that was the beginning of People First movement in Canada and in North America. And that's been very, very important. [Inaudible] we had the first international conference in Nairobi in 1972, no in 1982, with participants from eight countries. Now the League does it regularly and they have several hundred participants from many more countries. And now People First have their own conference in Toronto some time ago with 5,500 intellectually disabled running their own conference.

©2021 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.