UD + UDL for inclusion in education

view from the back of a university lecture theatre where students are seated listening to a lecture.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.

Download directly from this website, or go to the journal website. 

 

Keep it Simple for Inclusion

A group of language dictionaries are laid out on a table.First there was closed captioning and then live captioning. Audio describing came along soon afterwards. Now we have the possibility of “simultaneous simplification”. Two researchers wanted to ensure people with various cognitive conditions could participate in a conference. Using audio transcribing facilities, interpreters simplified the language of the speakers in real time.  

After the conference they interviewed participants and found people with significant cognitive conditions were able to fully participate in a professional conference. Participants also retained the information a few weeks later. Of course, people who don’t speak the language of the speaker also benefit. The title of the short paper is, Simultaneous Simplification: Stretching the Boundaries of UDL.

Editor’s note: I’d like to see academics writing for the general population instead of writing in academic code for the benefit of other academics. Useful knowledge on many things would become more readily available to everyone. It’s time to have universally designed academic papers. 

UD for Learning – overview at a glance

CAST UDL logoFor anyone who has not encountered the term Universal Design for Learning, this is an instructive 4 minute video. It links the concepts of an inclusive built environment with inclusive learning programs and practices. Good for teachers, trainers, lecturers and anyone interested in inclusive practice. There are three key aspects to UDL:

  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn

Music and Universal Design

men and women in dark blue shirts are signing. The bow of a violin is also visible with the orchestra in the background.It’s often assumed that music education programs are not something for people who a deaf. An article in the Journal of American Sign Languages & Literatures says this is not so. Using a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach, the authors challenge these preconceptions. The article begins, ” Music is not bound to a single modality, language, or culture, but few music education programs represent a multimodal spectrum of music…” and overlook the contribution of Deaf culture. Music universal design and the Deaf community do go together.

There is no one way of engaging with music, so different ways of experiencing the sensory, linguistic and cultural diversity of music is something music education practitioners might like to look at. The title of the article is Universal Design for Music: Exploring the Intersection of Deaf Education and Music Education

An Auslan interpretation of Handel’s Messiah was performed by a Deaf choir in 2015 at the Sydney Opera House. There is a video of the complete two hour concert where there is interpreting throughout by individuals and groups. If you just want the Hallelujah Chorus where all interpreters get involved, go to 1hour 38 minutes into the video.

 

Not Stupid, just Dyslexic

A boy sits at a desk, pen in hand ready to write on the paper.Going out of your way to find a solution for one group of people doesn’t always work. That’s what they found when they tried to find the best solutions for helping people with dyslexia. It turned out that the best solutions were those that made reading easier for everyone – the universal design approach. The special reading and writing solutions set them apart and made people “feel stupid”. The conclusion of this study therefore advises that it is better to work within the universal design paradigm than try to develop separate materials for people with dyslexia. The title of the paper is, “I’m not Stupid” – Attitudes Towards Adaptation Among People with Dyslexia. It is available from SpringerLink but you will need institutional access for a free read. It is also a book chapter in International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

Abstract: A significant portion of the population have dyslexia, which is commonly associated with reading and writing difficulties. In the context of developing materials well-suited for users with reading disorders, one solution has been to develop materials especially targeted at dyslexic users. However, how are the attitudes among users with dyslexia towards adaptation? In this paper, we report the findings from qualitative interviews with 20 adults with dyslexia. The main finding was that they were sceptical towards adapted products, among others because it made them “feel stupid” and because the adapted format affected the reading experience negatively. In this paper we argue to instead work within the universal design paradigm, trying to develop products and services usable by all people, thus reducing the need for particular user groups to utilise “special solutions”.

UDL: An Indigenous perspective

Placed in a rural setting a wooden barn type building displays the cultural icons and two totem poles of the Alaskan Natives. UDL an Indigenous perspective.The education system in Alaska is an interesting place to research the potential for applying universal design for learning (UDL) in a culturally diverse and indigenous context. Indeed, UDL and indigenous approaches to education have much in common. An article by Krista James explores examples of implementation of the Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators within a UDL Indigenous perspective.

Similarly to Australia, Alaska’s indigenous population has experienced loss of culture and forced assimilation with Western educational systems taking over the education of their children. James concludes that the Standards and the UDL framework are easy to connect. That’s because many of the Standards are already ingrained in the core principles of UDL. You don’t have to be an educator to appreciate this article.

The title of the article is: “Universal Design for Learning as a Structure for Culturally Responsive Practice”, in the Northwest Journal of Teacher Education. 2018. There is a link to a 30 minute video at the end of the article.

From the abstract

Alaska is rich with cultural and ethnic diversity. In fact, it is one of the three most diverse parts of the country. Culturally relevant practice is both needed and required in Alaskan schools. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that may assist educators in this endeavor.

The Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators tell us what best practice looks like for our diverse student population, especially our Alaska Native students. This article explores examples of implementation of the Standards within a UDL framework.

Dyslexia and Design

Girl sits with a book flicking pages and looking a little unhappy.In world that values lineal, logical thinking, dyslexia is often viewed as a condition that needs “correcting”. But what if dyslexia is the basis of creative non-linear thinking? Philippa Wyatt interviews two men who say their dyslexia is the key to new ideas and the joining of unrelated ideas. The article begins, “Is Dyslexia a weakness or a strength? Designers Ab Rogers and Jim Rokos discuss how they feel dyslexia enables them to think differently and how, in a moment when the work industry is more threatened than ever by the growing power of the intelligent computer, the non-linear, non-binary mind may be coming into its own.”

Time to re-think and value people who think differently in this world of digital binaries. Perhaps is it not a disorder that children need to overcome. The article was published on the Design Council website.

Digital and media literacy in learning

A collage of words relating to universal design for learningUniversal Design in Learning (UDL) has been around for a long time and is evolving with the digital times we live in. Cognitive science has shown us that there isn’t an average student anywhere, and that’s why it’s an illusory student. There are three core elements to UDL: Multiple ways of representing content (how of learning); multiple ways to express learning (what of learning); and multiple ways to engage (why of learning). Beyond Universal Design for Learning: Guiding Principles to Reduce Barriers to Digital & Media Literacy Competence  covers the challenges and barriers to accessible learning. It discusses the role of universal design in gaining competency in digital and media literacy. The key point is to recognise diversity – to aim for the average learner is aim for that illusory learner. With the trend to more online learning, UDL is becoming more important to ensure access to the wider population.  

The case for mainstreaming captioning

A computer screen text says, Hello Melanie, what do you want to do today? The case for mainstreaming captioning.
Captioning benefits many

Although this article is focused on higher education, the case for mainstreaming captioning could well apply to all education where videos are part of the delivery method. “The Case for Captioned Lectures in Australian Higher Education” concludes that for various reasons, captioning should now be considered mainstream. More students can benefit, not just students with hearing loss. The article requires institutional access for a free read, or go to Researchgate and request a full text. 

Abstract

This article provides a case for the benefits of captioning recorded lecture content in the Australian higher education sector. While online lecture captioning has traditionally been provided on a case-by-case basis to help students who are deaf or hard of hearing, this paper argues for a mainstream approach in order to benefit a range of student groups both with and without disability. It begins with some background on the regulation and technology context for captioning in higher education and online learning in Australia.

This is followed by a review of the current literature on the benefits of captioning to a wide range of students both disabled and non-disabled, the perceived barriers to captioning, and how the increasing internationalisation of the university context effects captioning options, both culturally and commercially. The paper concludes by suggesting that it may be inevitable that all recorded lecture content will need to be captioned in the future and highlights the potential benefits to Australian universities to move quickly to embrace this existing technology.”

Authors are: Mike Kent, Katie Ellis, Natalie Latter and Gwyneth Peaty.

Designing for universal success

graphic of a word cloud related to universal design for learning. Some of the words are: recognition, engagement, action and expression, strategic, networks, learner variability, multiple means of representation.Universal Design for Learning (UDL) began in the 1980s as a way of designing learning programs to incorporate students with disability. Now it is clear that UDL is increasing success rates across the spectrum of learners. To keep up with the digital age universally designed software tools are being developed and applied.

UDL software is not specifically for students with disability. Rather it is to enhance the learning experiences of all students. In an interview with  Dr Deb Castiglione, Nicole Martin and Trey Conatser of the University of Kentucky find out what UDL software can do for learners in a Q & A session. The way this is written is also a good example of relating information. Here is part of Castiglione’s response to the question, how is UDL different to accessibility?

“UDL is about incorporating principles and strategies to meet the needs of all learners (including those with disabilities) from the beginning of course/content design/development. By integrating accessibility practices into the mix, you can reach a larger percentage of student needs. For example, if you were to caption a video, not only would you meet the needs of an individual that is deaf or hard of hearing, but captioning also benefits English language learners, students with reading difficulties, as well as those whose hearing ability is affected by noise, or in situations where playing sound is not an option (e.g. no speakers, quiet environment such as the library, sleeping children/spouse, and so on).”

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