At last some joined up thinking. Higher education institutions have a responsibility to create inclusive learning environments. But academic articles tend to be about UD in the built environment or UD for learning, but not both. An recent paper links both UD and UDL as the way forward for the inclusion of learners with diverse needs. The authors share experiences and four case studies from South Africa and the United States. They cover environmental issues, professional development, barriers to inclusion and a vision for developing inclusive learning environments. The paper offers five compelling recommendations:
• Focus on the functional needs of students, staff and campus visitors and do not judge based upon labels used. Students vary greatly in the nature of their needs, even within a particular area of disability.
• Make inclusion and accessibility a campus-wide dialogue. Everyone needs to be included in identifying the needs and the solutions. It is not an endeavour for the disability units or teaching staff only.
• Build a systemic foundation using inclusive models for educational design, such as UD and UDL, applicable to facilities management, teaching faculty, support services and admission procedures.
• Leverage technology to support inclusion, rather than letting it become a barrier.
• Reach out to others for ideas and help in addressing challenges. There are many great resources and organisations that support inclusive education principles, and we recommend that higher education institutions use them.
The title of the article is, Inclusion, universal design and universal design for learning in higher education: South Africa and the United States.