Universal Design Benefits Post-Secondary Education

Universal Design Instruction (UDI) is a scientifically based concept that emphasizes inclusive practices to maximize student success, including those with ranges in ability, disability, age, learning style, language, race and ethnicity. For post-secondary institutions, this not only means ensuring campuses meet certain criteria in accessibility, but also rearranging classroom seating so clear sightlines are available to all students. Additionally, institutions should provide materials in electronic formats as well as captioning and transcribing for video presentations.

Sandra Bibb, Dean of the College of Health Professionals at Wichita State University (WSU), stresses incorporating UDI into the college culture supports people with disabilities without identifying them and singling them out. Bibb states, “We want to raise awareness regarding diversity that is invisible, in terms of learning needs while continuing our focus on the importance of arranging for accommodation.” Another contributor to the workshop, Sheryl Burgstahler, affiliate professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington, emphasized UDI can pave the way to a more inclusive college or university culture by asking questions on how to be proactive and not responsive to students needs because she says, “Most disabilities are invisible, and a student’s strengths and weaknesses are not always obvious.” Burgstahler has researched and had successful experience with the transition of students to post-secondary education and careers through the universal design approach to the student environment, services and learning activities.

For more information on how Universal Design Benefits Post-Secondary Education, click here.