Universal Design in Learning

Edith F. Miller, Ed.D., Interim Director of Disability Services

Medical Model
  • Deficiency or abnormality
  • Resides with individual
  • Remedy is cure or normalization
  • Professional determines course of action
Interactive Model
  • Type of diversity
  • Derives from interaction between individual and society
  • Remedy is changes in interaction
  • Individual participates in decisions
Universal Curriculum Design (Universal Design in Learning – UDL):

“Is the preparation of curricula, materials, and environments so that they may be used, appropriately and with ease, by a wide variety of people.” - Frank Bowe

Advantages of Universal Design
  • Is planned and implemented in advance.
  • Alters the environment or format, rather than requiring the individual to adjust.
  • Burden is on the designer not the user.
  • Can be used by many in various circumstances.
  • Lower cost in long run.
Principles of Universal Design
  • Equitable use
  • Flexibility in use
  • Simple and intuitive use
  • Perceptible information
  • Tolerance for error
Equitable Use
Does everyone in the class have equal access to materials and information?
  • Textbooks
  • Websites
  • Lectures 
  • Handouts
  • Power point slides
  • Videos
  • Computers
Flexibility in Use
How can the lesson or assessment be adapted to meet the needs of everyone in the class?
  • Allow the use of calculators and spellcheckers in class.
  • Assess students with a variety of methods, not just exams 
  • Give options (e.g., essays or multiple choice exam; answer three out of five essay questions).
Simple and Intuitive Use
KISS Principle – Keep It Simple Style!

Ask:
  • Can everyone understand the concepts the way I presented them?
  • Is the study guide helpful and relevant?
  • Are my assessments clear and straight forward?
  • Am I assessing the content rather than the ability to understand “tricky” language?
Perceptible Information
Is the information given during the lesson available to all students?
  • Can everyone hear it?
  • See it?
  • Read it?
  • Manipulate it?
  • Understand the information in the way in which it was presented?
Tolerance for Error
  • Provide guidelines for projects and papers regarding expectations and grading procedures.
  • Provide warning of common hazards in written work, for projects, or in laboratory settings.
  • Provide study guides for tests. 
Applying UDL
Create a welcoming classroom climate:
  • Provide ground rules for discussion.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
  • Recognize personal experience.
  • Attend to physical needs.
  • Share your own experiences.
  • Honor diversity.
  • Provide inclusive syllabus statements.
All Students Benefit From:
  • Accessible notes
  • Sufficient time
  • Power point slides
  • Study guides
  • Discussion groups 
  • Exams on disk
  • Textbook outlines or notes
  • Permission to tape record lectures
Who Benefits from UDL?
Students with:
  • Learning differences
  • Cultural differences
  • Language differences
  • Age differences
  • Physical differences
  • Sensory differences
  • Everyone!
Summary
Change assumptions to consider diverse students, not just students with specific disabilities.
Adjust teaching style to meet the needs of a variety of learners.
Provide materials in different formats.
Assess in multiple ways.
Create a welcoming environment for a diverse student population.