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Making Universal Design for Learning Accessible to Faculty

Author(s): Andrew Osborne Hasley1, Hayley Orndorf2

1. North Carolina State University Biotechnology Program 2. University of Pittsburgh

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Presentation on Universal Design for Learning at the 2019 BioQUEST & QUBES Summer Workshop

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 29 Jul 2019 doi:10.25334/4B5H-AV85 - cite this


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework used to develop learning environments that are effective for all learners, not just those who identify as having a disability. It is not a time-consuming exercise in repeatedly accommodating individual students’ needs. Instead, UDL is a practicethat seeks to create inclusive learning environments for all students, lowering unnecessary environmental barriers while providing challenging and engaging learning experiences.

In this session, we will discuss what UDL means in higher education and guide participants through two activities in which they will practice applying UDL concepts. Participants will experience screen reader use in a data science context, exploring strengths and weaknesses, and how this new skill can help them easily assess accessibility of their own learning materials. Together, we will also rework a traditional biology lecture topic to incorporate multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. During the session, we plan to have everyone practice applying UDL guidelines to an activity of their own. We would like you to bring an activity, lesson, or unit that covers a "pinch point," or consistent area of difficulty for your students. Ideally this is a focused activity or concept that you have previously implemented in your course. 

We will be working in small groups to apply the UDL guidelines to materials in an attempt to remove unnecessary barriers and alleviate instructor and student angst around these pinch points. If you are unable to bring an activity, we will have some examples to work with, but the session will be most meaningful if you can work on your own curriculum.  Participants will leave with a clearer understanding of UDL, and new skills and easily actionable ideas for implementing it.

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