UD in school buildings AND learning

A female teacher stands smiling in front of a class of young students in school uniform. One has her arm raised as if to ask or answer a question.While we talk of inclusive education and designing inclusive learning material, little has changed in the physical design of schools. According to an article in The Conversation, the classic 7 Principles of Universal Design are too vague and abstract to be of any help. However, designers are often directed to them as the way to go. Read more on this discussion about learning from the best that already exists. The authors are Scott Alterator, Benjamin Cleveland and Jocelyn Boys. There are more useful links to other documents in the article.The title of the article is, Students with disabilities need inclusive buildings. We can learn from what’s already working.

Steinfeld and Maisel in 2012 devised the 8 Goals of Universal Design, which are more practical, but they haven’t had the same coverage as the Principles. 

Editor’s note: I agree with the authors that the 7 Principles are only a starter for thinking inclusively. Unfortunately they are so often quoted in academia and guidebooks that it is difficult to shift away from them. Part of the problem is that the term “universal design” is used in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. That isn’t the problem per se. If people don’t know what universal design is, they Google it or go to Wikipedia. A Google search will almost certainly take you to the 7 Principles. And then perhaps policy makers and designers look no further.

There is no quick fix checklist. Inclusion is more than that – it is a way of thinking. I wrote an article along time ago that is still being read, Universal Design: Is it Accessible?