Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that addresses the primary barrier to fostering expert learners within instructional environments: inflexible, “one-size-fits-all” curricula. It is inflexible curricula that raise unintentional barriers to learning. Learners who are “in the margins”, such as learners who are gifted and talented or have disabilities, are particularly vulnerable. However, even learners who are identified as “average” may not have their learning needs met due to poor curricular design. Reference by National Center on Universal Design for Learning.
This section is taken from part of a large document written by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D. : Universal Design in Postsecondary Education: Process, Principles, and Applications which is a great resource for additional Universal Design information.
The process of UD requires a macro view of the application being considered as well as a micro view of subparts of the application. The following list suggests a process that can be used to apply UD in a postsecondary setting:
It is important to note that universal design practices are in fact universal. Almost without exception, features or flexibility added to a product to accommodate individuals with termporarily or permanently reduced abilities in some area have proven to be beneficial to users in gen eral. In many cases, more people without a disability will find features useful than the number of people in the original target audience. In fact, universal design cannot be practiced well unless the needs and abilities of everyone (including those with exception abilities on both ends of the spectrum) are taken into account.
Curbcuts are a good example of all of these points. First, they were instigated for people in wheelchairs. However, they are used much more often by people with bicycles, baby carriages, grocery carts, wheeled luggage, or delivery carts than by people in wheelchairs. Early curbcuts, however, were designed with only wheelchair users in mind, and had to be redesigned later to accommodate the needs of individuals who were blind, a nd to ensure that they were safe in cold and icy environments, environments with heavy rainfall, etc. Thus, good universal design benefits everyone, but to do this, it needs to take the needs of everyone into account.
A second example of universal design is the building of closed-caption decoders into television sets. This was done for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, but their use of the decoders has been dwarfed by the use of the feature by people for whom English is a second language, by children learning to read, and by adults using it as a highly motivational and easy mechanism to develop their literacy skills. It is also used by couples to keep peace in the bedroom (when one wants to roll over to sleep and the other wants to continue w atching a program), and by people who want to continue watching the television program while they answer the phone (many TVs actually turn the captions on automatically when the volume is muted).
For the full article please visit Trace Research & Development Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison website.
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