Universal Design for Instruction

Inclusive and accessible course design offers all students the opportunity to learn to the best of their ability. Universal Design strategies can be easily integrated into course and program design.

  • Physical accessibility: Use classrooms, labs, workspaces, fieldwork, and offices used for office hours that are physically accessible.
  • Seating: Arrange seating that gives each student a clear line of sight to the instructor. Seating should allow room for users of wheelchairs, assistive technology, and other devices to be seated inclusively within the group.
  • Reach out: Invite students, via your syllabus and verbally in class, to meet with you to discuss disability-related accommodations and learning needs.
  • Instructions: Deliver instructions and course requirements clearly and in multiple ways (e.g., orally, in printed form, electronically on course website).
  • Summarize: Summarize big ideas, give background and contextual information, and prompt students.
  • Aids: Provide scaffolding tools (e.g., outlines, class notes, study guides, presentation visuals/handouts) for learning and generalization. Make them available in both printed and electronic forms.
  • Speaking: Communicate effectively by facing the class, speaking clearly, using a microphone if a larger class, and making eye contact with students.
  • Group roles: Encourage cooperative learning among students, and within group-work, in which learners employ different skills and roles.
  • Timing: Minimize time constraints when appropriate. Announce assignments well in advance of due date. Allow adequate time for all students on tests and projects, unless speed is an essential learning outcome.
  • Instruction: Use multiple instructional methods that are accessible to various learning styles (e.g., lecture, small group discussions, visual aids, hands-on activities, examples that make concepts relevant and digestible) .
  • Assessments: Provide multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge by having numerous course requirements (e.g., tests, classroom participation, papers, presentations, group projects, portfolios, demonstrations). Give equitable weight to each as appropriate. Assess students in a variety of ways so as to measure essential skills or knowledge needed in the course or field of study.
  • Transparency: Be clear and transparent about how students will be assessed in overall course and on individual assignments (e.g., provide grading rubric in advance of deadline).
  • Feedback: Provide specific feedback on a regular basis both on individual performance and progress on assignments/projects.