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.

Normalization and Silent Speech

Bengt Nirje: The other part of this [Inaudible] is that the principle of normalization is most important when it comes to its deepest implication for those that are profoundly or severely cognitively impaired or multiply handicapped that are dependent on others, people who cannot speak. And there is so much that we have to learn to listen and to read to, about to understand, to interpret their meaning and that. And I'm going to read you here the following.

"For persons with profound or severe [Inaudible] with incapacity to talk and [Inaudible] to be able to be understood, to be able to trust the persons around you is a paramount need. Bliss systems, data taking, sign reading, touch reading, fortified communication among other things are important tools for communication, stimulation, education, and socializations for non-talking persons."

That silent speech, as I call it, that silent speech has to be understood by whatever means every way. The skills and habit of reading, patient expressions, sounds, body language, behaviors. For understanding their emotions, wishes, intentions and needs are essential to professional responsibilities [Inaudible]. Here a significant paradox can be found. In order to assure the integrity of the individual person without speech, it is all important that several, several persons are able to understand her or him, and also to share their knowledge. If only one person is able to do this, the disabled person is in terrible jeopardy if this significant person suddenly isn't there anymore or is not available anymore.

Assigning a single person with responsibility to be able to communicate, understandably, with one dependent person is unprofessional and threatening to the [Inaudible] integrity and security of the disabled in question. Certain cooperation between parent and staff of professionals is a basic requirement. This must be understood and looked after by the service providers in support of those handling these sensitive tasks and responsibilities. The development in this area making the national exchange of experiences and research findings most important as in the field of [Inaudible].

©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.