DSPS strongly encourages faculty to employ teaching techniques which embrace the concept of “Universal Design in Learning.” This concept originated in the world of architecture as it may apply to the creation of disability-friendly accessible features in building construction. Universal Design “is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Just as a wheelchair ramp provides basic access to a wheelchair user, it is also beneficial to the able-bodied instructor with a rolling cart or the traveler with a rolling suitcase. The same principals apply in the teaching and learning environment. Sample strategies include:
1. Class climate. Adopt practices that reflect high values with respect to both diversity and inclusiveness. Example: Put a statement on your syllabus inviting students to meet with you to discuss disability-related accommodations and other special learning needs.
2. Delivery methods. Use multiple, accessible instructional methods that are accessible to all learners. Example: Use multiple modes to deliver content; when possible allow students to choose from multiple options for learning; and motivate and engage students; consider lectures, collaborative learning options, hands-on activities, Internet-based communications, educational software, field work, and so forth.
3. UD benefits students with disabilities but also benefits others. ADAA requires that you may only use captioned course videos in order to provide equal access to deaf students. However, captioned video is also a benefit to students for whom English is a second language, to some students with learning disabilities, and to those watching the tape in a noisy environment. Delivering content in redundant ways can improve instruction for students with a variety of learning styles and cultural backgrounds. Letting all students have access to your class notes and assignments on a web site benefits students with disabilities and everyone else. Planning ahead saves time in the long run.
Taken from “Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, Principles, Guidelines, and Examples ,” Sheryl BurgstahlerAsperger’s, Ph.D. Do-It, University of Washington