In 1969, as the first normalization-based community services were being established in Nebraska, and as money now became available for them, Dr. Wolfensberger and the group of citizen activists he had been working with for several years became concerned that the bigger, more established, and institutional services would grab it, and/or that the big research centers would do so. So, in order to prevent this from happening, he developed a checklist of service quality criteria to be used to determine what service proposals would be given priority for this money. The criteria emphasized adherence to the then-new principle of normalization. This checklist of service quality criteria was run off on a mimeograph machine, for mostly local and internal use.

When he went to Canada in 1971, his new employer there, the National Institute on Mental Retardation, published a revised and expanded 2nd edition of these criteria. It was now called PASS (for Program Analysis of Service Systems), and consisted of two small volumes, a Handbook and a Field Manual. The Handbook explained PASS and gave instructions for its use; the Field Manual contained the PASS criteria, called “ratings,” that would be applied to a service to assess its quality. With the PASS instrument now available in print, Dr. Wolfensberger began to conduct training workshops on PASS and also to evaluate services with it. In these workshops, participants would be taught the ratings components of PASS, and would then go out in teams to assess existing services, applying to them the 41 PASS ratings. This process not only revealed the normalization quality of the service, but also taught the team member-participants the implications of normalization. These training sessions and evaluations were intense experiences, and most people who participated in them found them tremendously eye-opening as to the gulf between the service ideals proposed by normalization, and typical service practice. Participating in PASS workshops also fired up many of the people who went through them, to return home and try to improve their own services, to make them more consistent with normalization.

As PASS training workshops and evaluations were conducted, much was learned about normalization and its implementation (or lack thereof), about nuances of normalization, and about the conceptualization and wording of the ratings. In 1975, yet another revised and expanded version of PASS (the 3rd edition) was published, now with 50 ratings, once again with both a Handbook and Field Manual. Workshops that taught PASS (including the assessment of actual services with it) began to be held all over North America, and eventually elsewhere; and PASS workshops became the main avenue by which people learned normalization in depth.

With the huge number of training workshops being conducted through the 1970s on normalization and PASS, there was much feedback between them: what was observed and learned on assessment visits to services would find its way back into the normalization teaching, and as normalization teaching became more sophisticated, this would find its way into the teaching and application of PASS. Also, as noted in the sections of this site on normalization and Social Role Valorization, Dr. Wolfensberger was learning of many perversions of normalization that would eventually lead him to reconceptualize it as SRV. He decided to also make a greatly expanded and revised version of the service quality measurement tool PASS, to do three things: reflect the new conceptualization of normalization as SRV; include considerably more text explaining normalization and SRV and the rationales for the ratings; and assess only service features related to normalization and SRV (PASS had also included additional criteria of service quality that went beyond these). A grant from the National Easter Seal Society to the Training Institute at Syracuse University that Dr. Wolfensberger directed enabled the first experimental edition of this new instrument to be developed. Dr. Wolfensberger named it PASSING (for Program Analysis of Service Systems’ Implementation of Normalization Goals), in order to maintain the historical connection to the earlier instrument PASS. Once again, the National Institute on Mental Retardation in Canada published the 2nd edition in 1983, and PASSING workshops began to be offered and PASSING assessments to be conducted. PASSING contained 42 ratings.

Unfortunately, though Dr. Wolfensberger had perceived how central were social roles to what happened to devalued people, and to whether they would receive the good or bad things of life, he had not yet come up with the term to reflect this new insight and conceptualization before PASSING went to the printer. Thus, all the language in PASSING was normalization. It was only once the PASSING book was published that he came up with the new term Social Role Valorization. So for awhile, there was an incoherency between what participants at training workshops were learning about SRV, and the language they read in the PASSING instrument. Nonetheless, SRV and PASSING workshops continued to be offered, just as normalization and PASS workshops had been offered before. And, just as had normalization and PASS training before, the SRV and PASSING training was similarly eye-opening, yielding for most participants the same insights into the discrepancy between service practice and the service ideals spelled out by SRV and PASSING. It was only in 2007 that a 3rd revised edition of PASSING was published that, among other changes, replaced the normalization language in PASSING with that of Social Role Valorization. For this edition, the name PASSING was retained, but no longer as an acronym.

Both PASS and PASSING had been developed with two purposes: to teach normalization and then Social Role Valorization, and to assess the normalization and SRV quality of human services. However, while there were both PASS and PASSING assessments of services apart from workshops in which the team members conducting the assessments were learning PASS or PASSING, the vast majority of the use of both PASS and PASSING was in training workshops where the primary purpose was to teach the participants.

There has been some research conducted over the past several decades on the validity and reliability of the PASS and PASSING instruments, and on the findings of PASS and PASSING assessments; see Flynn, Robert. J. (1999). A comprehensive review of research conducted with the program evaluation instruments PASS and PASSING. In R. J. Flynn & R. A. Lemay (Eds), A Quarter Century of Normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and Impact, 317-349. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

Susan Thomas (April 2017)

Wolfensberger, Wolf P., & Glenn, Linda (1975). Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 1: Handbook (3rd ed.). Toronto, Canada: National Institute on Mental Retardation. (Reprinted 1978).

Wolfensberger, Wolf P., & Glenn, Linda (1975). Program analysis of service systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 2: Field Manual (3rd ed.). Toronto, Canada: National Institute of Mental Retardation. (Reprinted 1978).

Wolfensberger, Wolf P., & Thomas, Susan (2007). PASSING: A tool for analyzing service quality according to Social Role Valorization criteria. Ratings manual (3rd rev. ed.). Syracuse, NY: Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership & Change Agentry (Syracuse University).