Respect. Friends. Family and loved ones. Home. Fair and just treatment. Access to places of everyday life. Having a say. Being treated as an individual. Opportunities to discover and develop talents. Having something important to contribute and being acknowledged for contributions. In his 1996 paper, “The Universal Good Things of Life,” Wolf Wolfensberger took a stab at naming the things that all people want, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or culture.
Dr. Wolfensberger wrote about these life qualities, things that most of us take for granted, because countless people with disabilities have lives characterized by the opposite. Many are profoundly lonely and lack a real home. Placed with others having the same socially devalued characteristics, people are kept apart and away from typical aspects of everyday life. Adults are treated as though they are children, thought of as a group (of 3 or 8 or 20), sometimes entertained, and typically unchallenged. People are often bored and offered few opportunities to contribute.