What is Universal Design?
By definition, Universal Design is "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” The term “Universal Design” is borrowed from the movement in architecture and product development that calls for curb cuts, automatic doors, video captioning, speakerphones, and other features to accommodate a vast variety of users, including those with disabilities. Experience shows that everyone benefits from Universal Design features. When designers apply UD principles, their products and environments meet the needs of potential users with a variety of characteristics. Disability is just one of many characteristics that an individual might possess. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing educational environments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This is accomplished by simultaneously reducing barriers to the curriculum and providing rich supports for learning. Employing UD principles in everything we do makes a more accessible world for all of us. It minimizes the need to alter it for anyone.
How can Universal Design be applied to instruction?
By using principles of Universal Design in your instruction, you’ll maximize learning for all students in your class. Universal Design principles can apply to lectures, classroom discussions, group work, handouts, web-based instruction, labs, field work, and other academic activities and materials. Listed below are examples of instructional methods that employ principles of Universal Design. They make course content and activities accessible to people with a wide range of abilities, disabilities, ethnic backgrounds, language skills, and learning styles.
Information summarized primarily from DO-IT