Reducing the Need for Accommodations

Universal Design

Universal Design is an approach to the design of products and services to be usable by the greatest number of people, including those with disabilities. The goals of this approach are:

  • To reduce some of the barriers to services and facilities. 
  • To reduce some of the need for accommodation (there will still be a need for accommodation for some people; however, a reduction in need will simplify the process for most).

Three Principles of Universal Design in Learning

  1. engagement 
  2. representation 
  3. expression

Universal Design in Learning is what good teaching faculty inherently do for all their students. "UDL encourages faculty to consider three main principles including how they represent their course content, how they engage students in the learning process and how they offer students varied ways to express what they have learned. UDL allows faculty to consider these principles to the benefit of all students including students with disabilities" (enact.sonoma.edu).

We are socialized to consider disabilities negatively and therefore put the burden of responsibility on the disabled person to seek accommodation. However, using the paradigm of Universal Design in Learning, we should assume that the student is able to learn and it is the system, the environment, that is disabled from providing access to all people.

For more information visit the website for Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology.

Seven Fundamental Principles of Universal Instructional Design

  1. Equitable: Students with different learning styles and learning strengths should all have the same access to content. 
  2. Flexible: The instructor should be able to adapt materials and activities as needed for student success. 
  3. Simple and Intuitive: The instructor should choose materials that are accessible. 
  4. Perceptible: The instructor should provide all course information in multiple formats. 
  5. Tolerance for error: The instructor should choose software and other course materials that won’t be rendered unusable by student mistakes. 
  6. Low physical effort: The instructor should think ahead of physical demands of homework, field trips, and laboratory experiments. 
  7. Adequate size and space: The instructor should ensure that all students can access all needed areas of classrooms and labs (Mino 155).

“The cardinal rule of Universal Instructional Design is that there is no single method for representing information that will provide equal access for all students; no single method of expression that will provide equal opportunity for all students; no single way to ensure that all students are engaged inlearning because any method that works for some students presents barriers to learning for others” (Mino 155).

Mino, J. (2004): “Planning for Inclusion: Using Universal Instructional Design to Create a Learner-Centered Community College Classroom,” Equity & Excellence in Education, 37:2, 154-160.