How do we help people with disability to achieve their potential? How do we understand the experiences that have shaped their lives to date? What ideas can we draw on to go forward? This section of our website shares with you some resources on Social Role Valorisation (SRV) and how families can use it to improve the life of their family member with disability.
Human beings are complex creatures. We process information about our environment and the people in it, rapidly and continually and much of it is done unconsciously. Part of this process involves placing a value on various objects, ideas or people. We often give value to, or take value away, without thinking deeply about it.
This is the basis of SRV, a social science framework for understanding human relationships and the life experience of marginalised people, formulated by Dr Wolf Wolfensberger in the early 1980s. Wolfensberger, and his associates at the Syracuse University in New York, conceived the concept of SRV, based on the idea that, within any given society, some attributes and by association some people, are valued more highly than others.
The roles that people have are valued differently too. We all have roles - work roles (teacher, office worker), relationship roles (mother, brother), civic roles (tax payer, voter) and leisure roles (football supporter, dancer). Most people gather many roles randomly over the course of their life, without the need for much consideration or effort. Many of the roles people have are valued because they are associated with attributes such as wealth, competence, independence etc. But people with disability typically have fewer roles, or fewer roles that have positive value. People with disability might have the roles of patient, pension recipient or client - roles that our society doesn’t value. People who have many roles and roles that are associated with wealth, competence, etc are likely to be more valued than a person with fewer roles that are linked to dependence and poverty. People without valued roles will find it harder to access those things that society calls the ‘good things in life’, things like a home, meaningful work, opportunities to meet people and form relationships, to have a positive reputation, to name but a few. Valued roles open the door to new possibilities and opportunities.
SRV is often perceived as an academic concept, but at its basis are ideas that we are all familiar with. Below we have put together a list of resources on SRV that have been helpful to families in their thinking for a good life for their family member with disability.
Changing Lives, Changing Communities - Harriet Ziegler: a plain English description of many Social Role Valorisation ideas
Valued Roles for All - The Keys to the Good Life Handbook The Better Practice Project
Some reasons why SRV is important Michael Kendrick
An overview of SRV Theory Joe Osburn
Re-Thinking Respite John Armstrong and Linda Shevellar
Some Helpful Points to Keep in Mind in the Presence of People Who Cannot or Do not Talk Joe Osburn and Jo Massarelli
The purpose of life is a life with purpose: creating meaningful futures through valued roles Jane Sherwin and Meg Sweeney
Website links for further reading, workshops and events
Foundations Forum NSW SRV training group: www.foundationsforum.info
Social Role Valorization - www.socialrolevalorisation.com
Social Role Valorization Implementation Project - www.srvip.org
Social Role Valorization Blog - www.blog.srvip.org
Over the years there have been many theories that try to explain why some people in society are disadvantaged. These theories all have their strengths but, overtime, SRV has proved that when properly understood and applied, people do get access to the good things in life.
If you are interested in attending a workshop around SRV and the theory please contact us for more information.