Universal Design:  Applications in Postsecondary Settings
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Introduction to
Universal Design



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The Application of Universal Design
in Postsecondary Instruction

These and other projects are also exploring ways to apply these principles to college instruction. When a course is designed with these principles in mind, it meets the following criteria.

  • The desired outcomes and essential components of the course are clearly defined.
  • Prerequisite courses, knowledge and skills are identified.
  • Expectations are communicated clearly.
  • The physical environment is accessible and conducive to learning.
  • The climate encourages and supports interaction.
  • Instructional methods recognize student diversity.
  • The use of technology enhances instruction and increases accessibility.
  • A variety of mechanisms for demonstrating knowledge are available.
  • Feedback is clear, prompt, and frequent.
  • Good study habits are encouraged and supported.

(Adapted from the Principles for Applying Universal Instructional Design (MS Word) developed by the Curriculum Transformation and Disability, University of Minnesota, Funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Project #P333A990015.)

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Designing Online and Web-Enhanced Courses with Universal Design in Mind

All of the same principles that apply to traditional instruction also apply to online instruction, but there are several considerations that relate directly to access to technology. This video, produced by the University of Washington's DO-IT project provides an excellent overview of the barriers students with disabilities face in online learning and some solutions for addressing these barriers. As you watch the video notice the captions and the audio descriptions, which make the video more accessible to students who are deaf and students who are blind respectively. Consider situations in which these elements might be helpful to other students.

Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone (Video)
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The Application of Universal Design to Academic Programs

For students with disabilities to successfully complete a degree program, there are other elements of the academic experience that must be accessible to them. The staff of Project PACE has recognized the need to identify the criteria for a program that is designed to be inclusive. The criteria we have identified are as follows:

  • The required competencies and technical standards upon completion of the program are clearly defined.
  • Information about the program is readily available and expectations are communicated clearly.
  • Course offerings accommodate a wide range of schedules.
  • There is flexibility in the pace of the program.
  • The climate of the department encourages and supports interaction.
  • Departmental labs, lecture halls and workstations are physically accessible and properly equipped with adaptive technology.
  • Accommodation plans are considered in advance for competency exams required for the completion of the degree program, certification or licensure.
  • A range of post-degree placement options are identified.

Continue to Next Section - Course Development


Continue to Next Section - Programmatic Considerations

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