Special arrangements for university students who identify as having a disability is not an inclusive response. Hence many will try to manage without the assistance available to them. But taking a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach can provide both assistance and inclusion. A thoughtful article by Bethan Collins provides an occupational therapist’s view of UDL and the benefits for all.
Collins writes from her experience as a disability officer with a university. Students struggle for a variety of reasons such an inaccessibility of classrooms and reading material. The social aspects are essential for group work and discussion sessions but often disregarded. And of course, if one aspect of learning is a struggle it reflects on other aspects.
Occupational therapists understand the importance of meaningful activity, not just doing the task. Collins makes the point that the three tenets of UDL are a good start, but the importance of the activities around learning are not discussed.
UDL fits well with occupational therapy philosophy. Each client is treated as an individual with personal goals. Choice in how to do something is key.
As a disabled student, occupational therapist and lecturer, Collins concludes with,
“… that there is a very important place for an inclusive curriculum (based on UDL) and also that we, occupational therapists, are in an excellent position to promote this approach.
The title of the short article is, Universal design for learning: What occupational therapy can contribute. The article shows how UDL and occupational therapy work hand in hand. The Universal Design for Learning section of this website has more on the topic.