Universal Design

Enhancing Instruction for All Students


Melanie Thornton
Project PACE/Disability Support Services
University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2810 S. University Ave., SH#104, Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 569-8410 (v/tty)
mpthornton@ualr.edu

Note: Slide content expanded to include more details.

Slide 2

Universal Design Defined

“The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need of adaptation or specialized design.”

The Center for Universal Design, North Carolina State University

Slide 3

"Universal Design in Education…

…means the preparation of curriculum, materials and environments so that they may be used appropriately and with ease, by a wide variety of people."

Frank Bowe, Universal Design in Education

Slide 4

Universal Design does:

  • Reduce barriers to learning
  • Enable the students to be more self-sufficient
  • Allow students to focus on what is important

Slide 5

Universal Design is not:

  • A “one size fits all” approach
  • A substitute for accommodations
  • An attempt to remove academic challenges
  • A way to ensure success for all students
  • Synonymous with “accessibility”
  • Only about the use of assistive technology

Slide 6

Who benefits?

  • Students with disabilities
  • Students for whom English is a second language
  • Non-traditional students
  • Students with a variety of learning styles
  • All students

Slide 7

Multiple Models for Applying Universal Design

  • Universal Design in Education, Frank Bowe
  • Universal Design of Instruction (UDI), University of Connecticut
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
  • Universal Instructional Design (UID), University of Guelph, Canada

Slide 8

Universal Design in Education, Frank Bowe

In his book, Frank Bowe outlines the Principles of Universal Design as provided by the Center for Universal Design, NCSU, and describes applications in the postsecondary educational setting.

  • Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility in use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and intuitive - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Low physical effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and space for approach and use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

Slide 9

Universal Design of Instruction, University of Connecticut

In UDI, the principles above are adapted to apply to the educational setting, and two principles are added:

  • Community of Learners – The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.
  • Instructional Climate – Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive.

UDI is described and models of UDI are provided on the FacultyWare site hosted by the University of Connecticut at www.facultyware.uconn.edu.

Slide 10

Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

The UDL model emphasizes multiple means of:

  • Representation
  • Expression
  • Engagement

Information about this model and many UDL resources can be found at www.cast.org.

Slide 11-12

Principles of Universal Instructional Design (UID)

The UID model applies the principles of universal design to instruction, stating that instruction should:

  • be accessible and fair.
  • provide flexibility in use, participation and presentation.
  • be straightforward and consistent.
  • be explicitly presented and readily perceived.
  • provide a supportive learning environment.
  • minimize unnecessary physical effort or requirements.
  • ensure a learning space that accommodates both students and instructional methods.

Source: Jaellayna Palmer, © University of Guelph 2002. www.tss.uoguelph.ca/uid.

Slide 13

Some might say…

Universal Design is simply good pedagogy.
And this is true.

We have lots of models for good teaching.
And this is also true.

But even the best models for teaching have not always taken into consideration the needs of all students.

Until this becomes the norm...until postsecondary education is inclusive...Universal Design.

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