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Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL Principle # 1

Illustration of the brain with the recognition networks (the WHAT of learning) at the back of the brain highlighted in purple

MULTIPLE REPRESENTATIONS OF CONTENT

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because they allow students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential.

What options do teachers have for presenting content?

  • Video
  •  Audio
  •  Text Only
  •  Graphical
  •  Combinations

UDL Principal #1 supports recognition learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation.

Recognition networks are specialized to sense and assign meaning to patterns and thus facilitates the identification and understanding of information, ideas, and concepts.

To support diverse recognition networks teachers should:

  • Provide information via multiple media types and formats
  • Provide multiple examples of the same concept
  • Highlight critical features
  • Support background context

UDL Principle #2

Illustration of the brain with the strategic networks (the HOW of learning) at the front of the brain highlighted in blue

MULTIPLE MEANS OF EXPRESSION & CONTROL

Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. For example, individuals with significant movement impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy), those who struggle with strategic and organizational abilities (executive function disorders), those who have language barriers, and so forth approach learning tasks very differently. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization, and this is another area in which learners can differ. In reality, there is not one means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression is essential.

What options can teachers give students for responding to learning activities?

  •  Writing
  •  Drawing
  •  Reading
  •  Researching
  •  Designing
  •  Presenting
  •  Acting

UDL Principal #2 supports strategic learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship.

Strategic networks are specialized to generate and oversee mental and motor patterns which enable the planning, execution, and monitoring of actions and skills.

To support diverse strategic networks teachers should:

  • Provide flexible models of skilled performance.
  • Provide scaffolded opportunities for students to practice and develop expertise.
  • Offer flexible opportunities for demonstrating proficiency such as: writing, drawing, designing, presenting, acting.
  • Provide timely, ongoing, relevant feedback to students. Immediate feedback is a major reason that gaming is so popular.

UDL Principle #3

Illustration of the brain with the affective networks (the WHY of learning) at the center of the brain highlighted in green

MULTIPLE MEANS OF ENGAGEMENT

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because they allow students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential.

What are some strategies teachers use to engage students?

  •  Learning Styles
  •  Self-selection
  •  Individualized learning
  •  Motivation

UDL Principle #3 supports affective learning, provides multiple, flexible options for engagement.

Affective networks are specialized to evaluate patterns and assign them emotional significance which promotes the engagement with tasks and learning.

To support diverse affective networks teachers should:

  • Offer adjustable levels of challenge; start teaching at a level that is slightly challenging level but one where the student can achieve success.
  • Offer choices of learning context to students.
  • Offer choices of tools to students to learn a skill or complete a task.
  • Offer choices of rewards.