disability service organisations ! An
alternative model ! Community
research ! Community
Valorisation and empowerment
Social Role Valorisation (SRV)g
Disability and community
Role Valorisation and Marxian Valorisation theory
Valorisation and the community
Valorisation and empowerment
Wolfensberger states that SRV has to come from somewhere else (Joe
Osburn: An Overview of Social Role Valorization Theory, P.4
providing valued roles
for people with
disability. Empowerment comes
from the social structure (knowledge, skills, facilities, resources
the community and the social organisation (Policy process, hierarchy,
values, cultures etc) of its
members. While the two concepts may seem
related, they are actually quite different.
The goal of SRV is to provide meaningful
relationships and experiences
(the good things)
in a person's life through valued roles (Social
Images and Personal Competencies) within their community.
Empowerment could be described as the
process of enabling a person or
group of people through
knowledge and skills
Empowerment, has two perspectives which need to be understood within
the context of participating in a community:
in the objective sense
i.e. that we are empowered to drive a
We have the knowledge and skills: a
We have the resources: a vehicle
We have the experience: debatable
We have the opportunity: we are physically able and able to drive the
We have the self determination: we need to get from A to B
We have the SRV: debatable, depends on our associations with others
using the road
in the subjective sense
i.e. do we feel empowered
What is the difference between being
valued and being empowered?
Do we feel empowered by being valued?
Do we feel valued by being empowered?
Is being a passenger in a taxi or on a bus a form of empowerment when
we can't drive?
Is being a passenger in a taxi or on a bus a form of dis-empowerment
we can drive?
Can we do what we want on the road, do we want a bigger, faster car, do
we care about the others using the road. While we are empowered in a
sense that we can drive the car, we are dis-empowered
in that we have to obey the law and respect the other road users. We
may also become dis-empowered in that we become dependent on the car
lose our independence in living without the car.
While empowerment means different
things to different people, there is usually a set of rights and
responsibilities attached. Empowerment gives us the right to the goal,
but there is usually something that we give up in the process (usually
You may say that empowerment is the ability to have control over our
own lives. Yes, that is true in the subjective sense, a person may feel
empowered in one aspect of his/her life. The argument is an over
generalisation in that no one really has total control over their own
Just like the
fisherman who gave some fish to a friend in need. The fisherman values the
person's friendship, and the person has a valued role in the
community. After several days of the friend asking for fish, the
fisherman had had
enough and gave him a fishing rod
and showed him how to catch fish. The
became empowered through knowledge and resources (gaining the skill
and the tool to
People with high support needs may have valued roles within the
community and be valued by the community, however, because of the
nature of the disability they may be dependent on others for their
whole lives. The reality is that they may never be able to catch fish
them selves. This does not mean that they are any less valued. They
still have the opportunity to participate in the activity and share the
experience of catching the fish, even though someone else caught it.
Alternatively, just because the person is empowered
does not mean that the person is valued, or has a valued role in the
community. Values come from our relationships and shared experiences
with others in the activity within the community.
Community empowerment also means that there are rights and
responsibilities attached. Communities can not always get what they
want (there are lots of examples where they have not).
When providing the most appropriate
care for people with high support
1) The community is not where the
person is living, but where the
person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.)
will always need support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education,
employment or recreation) is directly related to the skills and
resources of the person, and, the skills and resources of the
community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another
whether we like it or not, It is the way that they are used that is the
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group
determine the way the group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department,
profession or service define the way the person is supported within
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not
need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the
that they are today, but can become warm inviting community places that
offer a range of services to the community, as well as be a part of the
wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our
society, and will have the same problems as other minority groups in
being a part of society.