The Role of Social Validity in the Design, Delivery and Evaluation of Person-Centered Interventions and Supports

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The construct of social validity was introduced by Montrose M. Wolf (1978) and was de¬fined by three distinct components. These components included (a) the social significance of the goals of treatment, (b) the social appropriateness of the treatment procedures and (c) the social importance of the effects of treatment. The value of social validity in the design, delivery and evaluation of person-centered treatments has been supported over time within the literature. Most notably, Ilene S. Schwartz and Donald M. Baer (1991) spoke to the importance of social validity in terms of designing interventions that were both relevant and valued by consumers. The field of special education has witnessed a significant growth over the past thirty-years in the use of a person-first framework. The merits of social validity for promoting person-first interventions and supports are substantial and include the potential for greater consumer and family engage¬ment, increased adherence to treatment and greater degrees of treatment satisfaction by all parties including teachers, therapists, family members and consumers. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that social validity inputs promote the design and delivery of socially significant interventions and supports and potential quality of life outcomes for consumers in a manner, which honors the intentions of person-centered professional practice. The purpose of this paper will be to provide a research-based rationale for the use of social validity in the design, delivery and evaluation of person-centered interventions and supports.