By Alicia Brandon (Student Accessibility Services) and Adam Nemeroff (Instructional Design)
This post is the first in a series of collaborations between Student Accessibility Services and EdTech where we will explore the role of Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) and its role in creating an inclusive classroom environment. In this first post, we will introduce UDI and its principles, frame definitions for each principle, and provide examples of the principles in use.
UDI is a set of principles meant to address the needs of all learners. A classroom that adopts these principles seeks to not only support the needs of students requiring accommodations, but the needs of all learners to allow them to learn at their best. These principles, introduced by Scott, McGuire, and Shaw (2001), are increasingly being embraced by educators across the nation.
According to Scott, McGuire, and Shaw (2001), there are nine principles of UDI. The following is a brief overview of each principle:
- Equitable use: Accessible and usable by everyone.
- Flexibility in use: Accommodated to individual needs with choices provided.
- Simple and intuitive: Clear and easily understood regardless of students' experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
- Perceptible information: Accessible regardless of students’ sensory abilities.
- Tolerance for error: Anticipates learning pace and prerequisite skills. Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills.
- Low physical effort: Minimizes nonessential physical effort (unless physical effort is integral to the essential requirements of a course).
- Size and space for approach and use: Considers physical and sensory access to environment, equipment, tasks.
- A community of learners: Promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.
- Instructional climate: Welcoming and inclusive.
In the table below, we include descriptions of the definitions for each principle as well as examples of that principle in use.
|1. Equitable use||Instruction is designed to be useful to and accessible by people with diverse abilities. Provide the same means of use for all students; identical whenever possible, equivalent when not.||
|2. Flexibility in use||Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual abilities. Provide choice in both instructional methods and learning experiences.||
|3. Simple and intuitive||Instruction is designed in a straightforward and predictable manner, regardless of the students’ experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.||
|4. Perceptible information||Instruction is designed so that necessary information is communicated effectively to the student, regardless of ambient conditions or the student's sensory abilities.||
|5. Tolerance for error||Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills.||
|6. Low physical effort||Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning. This includes not only the physical efforts but also the energy that goes into cognitive and decoding tasks
Note: This principle does not apply when physical effort is integral to essential requirements of a course.
|7. Size and space for approach and use||Instruction is designed with consideration for appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulations, and use regardless of a student's body size, posture, mobility, and communication needs.||
|8. A community of learners||The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.||
|9. Instructional climate||Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students.||
This table is adapted from Examples of UDI in Online and Blended Courses from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education’s Center for Postsecondary Education and Disability.
This was meant to be a brief introduction to Universal Design for Instruction. In future posts, we will explore topics, tools, and strategies designed to help you to create an inclusive classroom with these principles. Please contact Student Accessibility Services or EdTech if you have questions or would like to explore the topic of Universal Design in your courses.
References and Additional Resources
Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 17
Universal Design of Instruction in Postsecondary Education ... (2016). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.washington.edu/doit/programs/center-universal-design-education/postsecondary/universal-design-instruction-postsecondary
Burgstahler, S., & Cory, R. (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Education Press.
Universal Design for Instruction in Postsecondary Education. (2012, April 25). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.udi.uconn.edu/
Scott, S., Shaw, S., & McGuire, J. (in press). Universal Design for Instruction: A new paradigm for adult instruction in postsecondary education. Remedial and Special Education. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.facultyware.uconn.edu/UDI_principles.htm
CAST: About Universal Design for Learning. (2015). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html
CAST. (2011). UDL Guidelines 2.0 - Organizer with links to examples. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/site/udlguidelinesexamples/home
National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2012). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.udlcenter.org/
UDL-Universe: Universal Design for Learning Professional ... (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://udluniverse.com/