An Introduction to Universal Design.
In the past decade the implementation of Universal Design has increasingly had implications beyond architectural modifications. For example, many movie theaters, amusement parks, libraries, zoos, and museums provide captioning for those with hearing impairments and audiotaped descriptive tours in addition to signs in Braille for people with visual impairments, services that were not widely available prior to the passage of the ADA. Audiotaped library tours can be used by many consumers, and reduce the need for staff to respond to basic questions regarding the use of resources. This is but one more situation in which Universal Design can benefit all. Another example is the sports bar in which patrons are glued to the captions on the video screen, their means of access to the color commentary that cannot be heard above the din in the noisy bar environment. Obviously, this was not the application originally intended by those who developed the technology that now provides this option on all new televisions.
Educators have been among the first to apply the concept of Universal Design to their own profession. Some typical accommodations for students with specific disabilities can benefit all students. For example, providing handouts in advance of lecture overheads or power point presentations, or providing this information via a course web site, can be helpful to students with learning disabilities (LD), acquired brain injuries (ABI), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The handouts can be provided in alternative formats, such as enlarged print or Braille, for students with visual impairments, or accessed from the web via a screen reader. But other students, with or without disabilities, may also learn more effectively if they have access to this information prior to lecture. For the student who is not an aural learner (Higbee, Ginter, & Taylor, 1991), providing an alternative to learning by means of lecture alone can enhance learning, especially if the lectures do not follow the textbook. Some students have difficulty becoming engaged in the learning process when expected to sit passively and listen for an entire class period, as is commonly the case in postsecondary education. Consider also how a course web site can assist a student who must be absent for an extended period due to illness or a family emergency.
There are many ways in which educators can improve the classroom climate for all students, while also enabling students with disabilities to feel included rather than accommodated. The next column in this series will specifically address Universal Instructional Design (UID). Future columns will provide information regarding new technologies that assist both students and faculty in making classroom materials more accessible, and will also discuss the implementation of UID in specific disciplines.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Public Law 101-336, 42 US CA 12, 101-12, 213 West Supp., 1991).
Higbee, J. H., Ginter, E. J., & Taylor, W. D. (1991). Enhancing academic performance: Seven perceptual styles of learning. Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, (2), 5-10.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Public Law 193-112. Section 504.
Shapiro, J. (1993). No pity: People with disabilities, A new civil rights movement. New York: Times Books, Random House.
Silver, P. Bourke, A., & Strehorn, K.C. (1998). Universal Instructional Design in higher education: An approach for inclusion. Equity & Excellence in Education, 31 (2), 47-51.
Jeanne L. Higbee University of Minnesota E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Jeanne L. Higbee is an associate professor and founding chair of the Center for Research on developmental Education and Urban Literacy in the General College, University of Minnesota. She is on the curriculum planning and dissemination teams for a U.S. Department of Education grant titled "Curriculum Transformation and Disability."
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|Author:||Higbee, Jeanne L.|
|Publication:||Academic Exchange Quarterly|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2000|
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