Strong personal relationships, connections and networks give us a sense of belonging and safety & Social Role Valorization (SRV).
Positive relationships are key to living a good life. We all stand to gain when all members of our communities:
contribute in meaningful ways
make positive connections with others
have opportunities to support each other.
In fact, we are hardwired to belong.
Sadly, but for many people with a disability today’s society has made this very difficult. It is important for us to remember that Inclusive communities are better places to live for all its members. Below is some reflections and helpful links for us to think about how we can support the communities we live in!
The power of difference:
We are hardwired to make judgements of those around us, we are eager to spot difference and quickly decide if the person or people standing in front of me are…
a) like me,
b) unlike me, being “other”, strange and different.
We do this often without awareness of what is actually happening within us, most of this interaction is unconscious. It does not mean we are a bad person. To understand this better, close your eyes and ask yourself, who would you perhaps not like to sit with on a long bus journey?, who perhaps would you not like as your neighbour next door?
However the impact on the people whom we judge to be different or as “other”, is real. People we see as “other” we tend to push away and distance ourselves from. If we see that difference in a negative way, for example ‘that person can’t talk,’ there is a likelihood that we will devalue that person. The impact on people with a disability and their lives and opportunities is very real.
To help understand this universal phenomenon of devaluation and how to counter it, many members of the ILN have used a body of knowledge called Social Role Valorization (SRV).
The basic premise of SRV is that people are likely to experience the good things in life if the hold valued social roles.
SRV acknowledges that it matters
who people are in their community and their lives (that is the roles they hold).
where and how and with whom people spend their time.
We want a community where diverse members find good things in common with each other and make room for and welcome each other.
So we need to ensure that people with disabilities are present in good, valued and typical places in our families, neighbourhoods and communities.
We need to ensure, people with a disability hold valued roles and offer contributions to other valued citizens such that their presence becomes of importance to the fabric of the community.
It is through these positive actions and roles that the perceptions and stereotypes of people with disabilities will shift. A socially inclusive society is where people with a disability
Are present regularly and frequently in ordinary places in their communities
Are doing typical, ordinary and valued things with a range of valued and typical people in the community
Are holding valued social roles based on their interests, passions and choosing
And make relevant and welcomed contributions
The information and thinking that comes from SRV really helps to guide our thinking and decision making in supporting people with a disability and society to be inclusive.
Our friend Janet Klees, Executive Director of Durham Association for Family Resources and Support (DAFRS) describes this best –
The principle of social role valorization (SRV) is not immediately familiar to most people who support a person with a disability, policy makers, funders and the community. However, the depth and truth of SRV as an anchoring principle and its implementation framework, is often clear and recognizable to people once they hear it described in common language and once people understand its effectiveness as it guides the implementation of strategies that make a positive difference in the lives of people who are vulnerable. Fairly quickly, most people can appreciate this framework as a way to safeguard and build lives of value and meaning within the hearts of our communities.
Two things impact powerfully upon whether another person is seen to be “one of us” or “one of them ” and these are:
a) the company we keep lets others know that we (a new person) are okay if we are seen together with people, singularly or in groups, that they already know and like, understand and value;
b) the roles we are perceived to hold – everyday, familiar and valued roles (sister, employee, and teacher) help others to see a person as knowable and sharing common values, while weird, unfamiliar and negative roles (adult day programme participant, special needs guy, and criminal) make others see the person as different and discomforting, causing them to withdraw or turn away.
Some roles are chosen by us in our lives (teacher, swimmer, neighbour) and others are thrust upon us by circumstances (poor person, sister, disabled person). The roles we are seen to hold are powerful ways that influence how the other will judge us. Interestingly, building relationships (i.e., the company we keep) that are rich, rewarding and safeguarding most easily arise when a person holds a range of typical and familiar roles in their lives (uncle, neighbour, drummer, volunteer, church member).
There is much more information available on SRV and we would really encourage you to take a look at some of these websites. To get you started here are some links:
For an extensive library of SRV resources visit:
If you want to know more about how to help people who require support to have a good life in the community and create valued social roles, this workbook is a great resource:
For resources developed by families who have a passion for personalised lifestyles which includes videos, talks, articles, newsletters and stories:
For short videos, articles and other resources on how families have created a good life for their loved one with a disability and how SRV has been used in practice visit:
For more information on SRV contact firstname.lastname@example.org