Leading Edge Resources: Lifelong Education

Applying Universal Design to College Instruction (S. Scott, S. Shaw, J. McGuire; Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability University of Connecticut, 2001).  The authors included students in secondary and postsecondary educational environments in their investigation "because these students, by definition, represent a broad range of learning and cognitive differences that often challenge traditional notions of college instruction." They concluded, "We found the principles of UD to be quite encompassing as a framework for inclusive college instruction."

The authors adapted the North Carolina State University Universal Design Principles to formulate their own nine principles for Universal Design of Instruction. These are:

  • Equitable Use. Instruction is designed to be useful and accessible for people with diverse abilities. Provide the same means of use for all students; identical whenever possible, equivalent when not.
  • Flexibility in Use. Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual abilities. Provide choice in methods of use.
  • Simple and Intuitive. Instruction is designed in a straightforward and predictable manner, regardless of the student's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  • Perceptible Information. Instruction is designed so that necessary information is communicated effectively to the student, regardless of ambient conditions or the student's sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error. Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills.
  • Low Physical Effort. Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning. This principle does not apply when physical effort is integral to essential requirements of a course.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use. Instruction is designed for appropriate size and space for approach, reach manipulations and use regardless of a student's body size, posture, mobility and communication needs.
  • A Community of Learners. The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.
  • Instructional Climate. Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students.
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