Universal Design in Education
Universal Design: Educational Principles and Applications
Universal Design (UD) as defined by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina Sate University is “the design of products and environments which are useable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design”. Universal Design in Education (UDE) applies to educational products (such as curriculum, academic programs, computers, websites, software, textbooks, lab equipment) and environments (such as campus facilities, classrooms, learning resource centers, online and distance learning courses).
Principles of Universal Design for Instruction
Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.
Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Simple, Intuitive Use: 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 & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.
A 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. High expectations are espoused for all students.
While courses, technology, and student services are typically designed for the average student, UDE promotes the consideration of students with a broad range of characteristics which include gender, culture, age, stature, disability, and learning style. Teaching must move beyond traditional presentation styles and incorporate strategies that are more diverse, flexible, and accessible in order to be universally effective.
In order for UDE to uphold essential components of course information, the following guidelines may be considered:
- Class Climate. Adopt practices that reflect high values with respect to both diversity and inclusiveness.
- Physical Access, Usability, and Safety. Assure that activities, materials, and equipment are physically accessible to and usable by all students and that all potential student characteristics are addressed in safety considerations.
- Delivery Methods. Use multiple, accessible instructional methods.
- Information Resources. Assure that course materials, notes, and other information resources are flexible and accessible to all students.
- Interaction. Encourage effective interactions between students and between students and the instructor and assure that communication methods are accessible to all participants.
- Feedback. Provide specific feedback on a regular basis.
- Assessment. Regularly assess student progress using multiple, accessible methods and tools and adjust instruction accordingly.
|Lecture||Requires sustained concentration, retention of information, fluency in spoken language, and note-taking.||Create and post detailed notes on an accessible Website, provide periodic breaks during long sessions, provide adequate space and lighting for interpreters/captioners; allow time for questioning and clarification throughout presentation.|
|Group Work||Requires substantial, appropriate physical space; use of printed materials; sustained concentration; interpersonal, communication and writing skills; may spark anxiety issues.||Design group roles to ensure that individual differences are naturally mediated through distribution of responsibilities; minimize amount of printed materials and assure accessible formats when necessary.|
|Power Point⁄ Overhead||Requires use of visual information (clarity, color, size, and density of slides); lighting may be an issue.||Create slides with solid background (light text on dark background); use at least a 24-point font (Arial, Times New Roman); describe slides orally; limit number of slides; allow adequate time for audience to read each slide; use software to create accessible PowerPoint slides to post to an accessible Website.|
|Videos⁄ Films||Requires use of auditory and visual information; lighting may be an issue.||Ensure videos are captioned; prepare a disk of descriptive narration or transcript for ready availability of alternative format.|
|Written Exercises||Requires reading, writing, access to print formats and English language fluency.||Present written exercises as group work OR allow the use of assistive technology, reader, scribe, or a dictated response; use at least 18-point font on a solid background using simple, intuitive language.|
|Activities||Requires physical movement, use of auditory and visual information, English language fluency; may spark anxiety issues, compromise effectiveness of accommodations (sign language interpreters/captioners), and prevent adequate control of physical environment (noise, space, lighting).||Plan and consider value of activity due to the wide range of issues and individual differences of participants; consider options to accomplish the same goals. Plan necessary supports to allow for ease of movement and communication. Practice variations of the activity with user/experts to evaluate inclusiveness.|
|Discussion||Requires English language fluency and use of auditory information; may require note-taking, sustained concentration, use of visual information; may compromise effectiveness of accommodations (sign language interpreters/captioners) and spark anxiety issues; space may have inadequate acoustics.||Provide adequate space and lighting; provide options for participation, such as note cards; summarize key points; design seating arrangements that provide face-to-face contact for all participants; ensure appropriate acoustic environment.|
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