On Wolfensberger’s Contribution to Advocacy Systems [PDF]

John O’Brien

John O’Brien – Dec. 2018

The decade that began in 1967 saw exceptional growth in local services for people then identified as “mentally retarded”. Wolf Wolfensberger influenced this critical period by producing and promulgating a comprehensive set of guiding patterns: a definition of the principle of normalization fit for the timeand operationalized in PASS, an evaluation method; 1 2ComServ, the design for a locally governed system of community services sufficient to make institutions unnecessary; a systematic approach to planning for social change; The Third Stage in the Evolution of Voluntary Associations, a call to move from service provision to a mission of monitoring, safeguarding, advocacy and innovation; and a study of guardianship and protection that resulted in Citizen Advocacy programs and in the design for the focus of this 3 entry, A Multi-Component Advocacy/Protection Schema (hereafter The Multi-component Schema). 4

Wolfensberger’s influence in this period was substantial. A courageous and charismatic practitioner of what he called Change Agentry, he disturbed many meetings, conferences and journal readers with meticulously articulated ideas delivered with a prophetic edge. Many opponents joined (often heated) debate within the terms that he set, thus engaging in the slow and deliberate process of prophetic persuasion he believed was the way to treat change in the lives of socially devalued people.