Fostering Inclusion with Universal Design for Learning

All students can benefit when instructors take a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach in higher-education classrooms, says this article from the Association of American Colleges & Universities.

· Creating Inclusive Learning Environments:

UDL strategies often include but also go well beyond accommodations for students with disabilities, which become part of a larger strategy to meet all students' learning needs by providing materials in multiple formats. For example, captioned videos support not only learners who are deaf and hard of hearing, but also English Language Learners.

Another example is the UDL practice of limiting the number of quiz questions on a page—whether online or on paper. This helps students with attention disorders focus on one question at a time.  Putting quizzes online allows students with learning disabilities like dyslexia to use screen readers to ensure they understand the instructions, the questions, and the answer options. Extending or removing time restrictions supports students with conditions like traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, which affect some military veterans.

· Applications for Assessment:

Undoubtedly, instructors do not want to increase their workload by adding additional assessments. Fortunately, it is easy to redesign existing assignments to provide students with multiple ways of showing what they know. For example, consider allowing students to use multiple submission formats. Let students choose whether to turn in an essay, an info graphic, an audio presentation or podcast episode, a screencast or online presentation, a video, or a project of another media type that might be appropriate to the course. Instructors can require students who submit a media project to also submit a written component, such as a script they used to prepare or a transcript used to verify that they completed the assignment correctly.

There is much more to read about UDL and post-secondary education here: