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Universal Instructional Design

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Universal Instructional Design (UID) is an educational concept designed to make the learning environment inclusive to all learners. Combining seven principles, Universal Instructional Design can be applied when teaching those students who have disabilities. Applying this concept assures that everyone is given the same opportunities to maximize their learning experience.

The seven principles of universal design are:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

When preparing lessons and material, instructors can consider the principles of universal design to make sure they are addressing the needs of all their students - those with disabilities and those of varying backgrounds can benefit from an altered educational plan.  With this in mind, how can an educator apply principles of Universal Instructional Design to the classroom?  Here are some examples.

  • Delivery Methods: The instructor can utilize a variety of delivery methods to address the learning styles of all the students in a classroom. Some examples of different instructional methods include: lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, projects, cases and internet-based interaction.
  • Learning Materials: See the QLC Accessibility Toolkit on how to make learning material accessible for students.  Make material available in both print and electronic formats. Provide outlines for sessions to give students time to prepare accordingly.
  • Demonstration of Knowledge: Give students frequent and flexible opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge in ways other than written tests and papers.  Consider using group work, demonstrations, presentations and portfolios to gage student understanding.
  • Physical Effort and Access: See the QLC Accessibility Toolkit for ways to make the learning environment one that is physically accessible. Make sure that activities minimize the need for extensive physical effort and accommodate the physical skills of all students. Reduce the need for unnecessary physical travel by making material accessible and available to be submitted electronically.