Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ronald L. Simons


Since the 1970s, the principles of normalization have guided residential service industries in their quest to provide training and service options to individuals with developmental disabilities. The normalization principle dictates that these individuals enjoy and share in the normal rhythms of the day, week, month, year, and season, and in the least restrictive environments possible. This includes offering them personalized training in normalized residential settings which include access to adequate privacy, social activities, human and personal rights and responsibilities, and opportunities to experience normal, life-long development, including the right to error. However, while the idea of normalizing the lifestyles of individuals with developmental disabilities is commendable, the concept has always remained somewhat troublesome, especially when it comes to translating the concept's tenets into actual direct-care level practices. To date, the degree of success experienced by residential agencies in their endeavors to offer such services remains questionable. A variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods are used to evaluate how effective one residential care facility for the mentally retarded (RCF-MR) has been at developing programming services and residential options which are in keeping with the principles of normalization. In particular, through a larger case study, I wished to establish the degree to which the normalization had been implemented and if there was evidence that a general conceptual understanding was present among employees. In addition, I wanted to discover whether or not internal and external obstacles were present which acted as obstacles to the agency's attempts to offer normalized services and options. These obstacles included such items as the impact of staff attitudes, the presence of abuse and surplus social control, as well as structural impediments found with the organizational structure of agency. Finally, in order to establish if the agency was meeting its mission statement goals, I examined quality of life issues from an individualistic perspective, i.e., as perceived and reported by agency consumers. While primarily descriptive in nature, my study does draw upon the theoretical notions of Wolfensberger, Flynn and Nitsch, and McCord as ways to analytically order and discuss results and findings.


Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Roger John Eich



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

285 pages