Unit 1: Universal Design for Learning
Unit 1 Performance Objectives:
- Learner will know the principles of Universal Design for Learning
- Learner will understand the historical underpinnings of Universal Design for Learning
- Learner will describe the competing philosophies on UDL and accessibility
What You'll Do:
- Take the Universal Design for Learning pre-test
- Read "UDL Then & Now"
- Complete the activity
- Connect the lesson to real-world examples by considering the reflection question
Universal Design for Learning Pre-Test
The Media & UDL pre-test was designed to assess your current understanding of accessibility practices and Universal Design for Learning.
Mini-Lecture: UDL Then & Now
Section #1: The Roots of Today's Universal Design
1990s – Today
Section #2: Universal Design Applied to Educational Materials
The same philosophy of barrier-free design has taken hold in the education community. Though many schools and universities offer "accessibility and accommodation" services, there has been a move in recent years to separate the notion of accommodation from accessibility and strive for the latter. Just as a handicap accessible ramp is added to an area when enough people struggle to use the stairs, some activists argue that accommodations represent a school of thought where the burden is shifted to the individual with the disability. Additionally, as novelist and attorney Katie Rose Pryal notes, in order to receive accommodations, individuals with disabilities must first share the fact that they have a disability.
"The accommodations model depends on invasions of privacy to work."
An accessibility approach, on the other hand, involves incorporating features into the original design that would allow for equal access for everyone to the same buildings, services, and information.
Universal Design for Learning applies this same concept to every aspect of curriculum design. Rather than imagining the "average" student and developing course materials according to the expectation of how they access information, advocates of UDL encourage teachers to anticipate a class made up of a variety of learning styles, habits, abilities, and skills. Developing a course with every possible student need in mind is, of course, impossible, but there are three main principles educators can turn to in order to implement UDL and create a more inclusive learning environment in their classrooms.
- Principle #1: Provide Multiple Means of Representation
- Principle #2: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
- Principle 3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
In this course, we will be looking at creating three types of media, video, images, and text-based documents, through the lens of Universal Design for Learning. Rather than simply
Section #3: Assistive Technology
Focusing on course materials specifically, assistive technology refers to the hardware and software created to ensure that users with disabilities can access content.
- Literacy software, like Kurzweil 3000
- Specialized font, such as Dyslexie font
- Captioning software, like the tools available in YouTube's Video Manager
- Transcription software, such as Dragon
- Voice-controlled software, like Dragon NaturallySpeaking
- Mouth sticks, such as Griffin's MouthStick Stylus
- Eye tracking devices, like Tobii Dynavox
- Glasses or contacts, such as Soft Contact Lenses
- Screen enlargers, like the ZoomText Magnifier
- Screen readers, such as JAWS
- High contrast themes , like those available for the Windows Operating System
Unit 1 Activity
In this activity, you will make your first contribution to the course knowledge base. Your mission is to search the Web for two expert communities and add them to the knowledge base.
What is an "expert community?"
In the context of this course on UDL and accessibility, an expert community is any space on the World Wide Web where professionals are exchanging information about the main topic or any of the subtopics covered in this course.
Examples of expert communities include:
- A specific discussion forum or thread within a forum that focuses on developments in assistive technology.
- A blog with multiple contributors that discusses web accessibility.
- A Google+ community of teachers who share articles about accessibility.
Unit 1 Reflection Question
The two articles listed below touch on two different accessibility problems. Read the two articles and reflect on how the accommodations vs. accessibility debate applies to the situation at hand.
Flexter, K. (2016, October 25). Local disabled girl granted exemption from standardized testing. MySunCoast. Retrieved November 20, 2016 from:
Article #2 Chaduvula, R. & Eischens, R. (2016, November 11). Despite progress, or those with disabilities, accessibility concerns persist. Minnesota Daily. Retrieved November 20, 2016 from: http://www.mndaily.com/article/2016/11/despite-progress-or-those-with-disabilities-accessibility-concerns-persist
Use the following questions to guide your reflection:
- What accommodations were available to the student(s)?
- Think of an accessibility-based approach to solving the accessibility problem(s) at hand. How would this differ from an accommodations-based approach?
References and Resources
- Cone, K. (n.d.). Short History of the 504 Sit in. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund: https://dredf.org/504-sit-in-20th-anniversary/short-history-of-the-504-sit-in/** Ervin, M. (1986). The 25 Day Siege That Brought Us 504. Retrieved September 20, 2016 from Independent Living Institute: http://www.independentliving.org/docs4/ervin1986.html
- National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). About UDL. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from National Center on Universal Design for Learning: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl
- NC State University. (n.d.). Universal Design History. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from The Center for Universal Design: https://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/about_ud/udhistory.htm
- Pryal, K. (2016, April 12). Can You Tell the Difference Between Accommodation and Accessibility? Retrieved September 18, 2016, from Medium: https://medium.com/disability-stories/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-accommodation-and-accessibility-7a7afd9dacd7#.jagk1re8v