PART 1 (where we are now – general overview of what UDL is, where it came from, and how it functions in higher education)
PART 2 (reframing UDL – the right time for adopting UDL is now. Social, technological, and resource circumstances are different today than they were just 15 years ago, and we share ways that you can talk to your colleagues and institutional leaders about why it is now possible to adopt UDL as an approach for broad, general benefits to faculty members, institutional staff, and the students they serve)
PART 3 (adopt UDL on your campus – why it’s effective, not just in an it’s-the-right-thing-to-do sort of way but also where institutional leaders want to see positive change: in student retention, persistence, and satisfaction)
UDL: Universal Design for Learning
Formalized in 1990s
By neuroscientists at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) in Boston
First adopted widely in the US K-12 education world
Recently gained attention in higher education
Roots in UD in the built environment, an advocacy effort for the access rights of people with physical challenges
Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 – mandated access for physically handicapped persons to buildings created or modified with federal funds
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – mandated even broader access to the built environment
Approach to the creation of learning experiences and interactions that incorporates multiple means of:
The end result is to make the physical world more accessible for everyone – not just for people with disabilities
Emotional Valence and Accommodations
Our emotional response to UDL gets inflected with the valence from our experiences making disability accommodations
Valence refers to our emotional coloring for “events, objects, and situations…”
They may possess positive or negative valence – they may possess intrinsic attractiveness or aversiveness
By adopting UDL principles in our course design, we greatly reduce the need for specific accommodation requests
Applying UDL can be expensive and resource intensive. It takes design-level thinking, often beyond our current scope of subject expertise. UDL is not perceived as being for everyone – just for people with disabilities.
Our students today aren’t like our students fifteen years ago.
Our faculty members aren’t like their counterparts from the past, either.
86% of college students in North America own smartphones.
Mobile technology has changed how they communicate, gather information, allocate time and attention, and potentially how they learn.
The ever-growing mobile landscape thus represents new opportunities for learners both inside and outside the classroom.
UDL reaches out to learners on mobile devices and gives them more time for studying.
We move the focus away from training only faculty members about UDL. We train the people who support them:
UDL training should focus on the people who actually put together the interactions for learners – not only to designing courses but also to designing the interactions that students have with our application processes, registrar’s offices, tutoring services, and other touchpoints common to the higher education experience. We can apply UDL principles to make it easier for everyone to engage with them. Implementing UDL principles across an institution requires leadership support and resources. This approach – training those who actually do the development work on materials and interactions on which UDL touches – results in greater levels of adoption of UDL across the institution.
STAR: Supporting Transition, Access, and Retention
Goal of UDL: to reduce barriers to learning for everyone
While we should always keep learners with disabilities in mind, we serve the broadest audience by situating UDL as a way to reach mobile learners through anytime, anywhere interactions, and we should train our support staff in UDL so faculty members who want to innovate are automatically presented with UDL as simply being the way things are done at our institutions.
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
602 561 8665
You can also fill out my online form.
The information on this website is for educational purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice. While the author of this website is an attorney, she is not your attorney, nor are you her client, until you enter into a written agreement with Nilsson Law, PLLC to provide legal services.