At some point during one’s teaching experience an instructor has most likely come across a situation where a student needed a level of support not normally planned for within the syllabus and curriculum development. This student may have had a physical limitation such as needing wheelchair access to the classroom, or a student may have had a learning disability in which there had to be considerations with taking tests. In most cases we see these experiences as a “special” consideration, or at the least out of the normal scheme of things. What Universal Design, or Inclusive Design, allows for is a more global outlook on instruction.
Universal Design creates a classroom experience that is accessible to everyone within the diverse learning communities we encounter in higher education. This experience aims for an environment that does not target certain groups of students, but allows all students to flourish within their learning. An example of this can be as simple as creating presentations that bring in visual and audio information to supplement the textual. It can also be more complex such as setting up group work that incorporates layers of self and peer assessment along with instructor evaluation.
As part of the Teaching Effectiveness Program’s mission to help create inclusive environments for teaching and learning, we have worked with the University Of Oregon Disability Services in creating a Universal Design in College Instruction resource section on the TEP site: http://tep.uoregon.edu/resources/universaldesign/intro.html
In this section, you will find resources such as an introduction to what it means to incorporate Universally Designed principles in teaching and learning; other sections address various questions that are essential to consider when designing, implementing, and evaluating your course based on Universal Design principles. We hope you will find the information presented here useful, and we welcome your suggestions and ideas to expand this Universal Design section of our site.