“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” –Ron Mace, NCSU Center for Universal Design
Though the term “universal design” has been used since the ‘70s, full application of the principles of universal design to teaching and learning in higher education is still very much in process. Martha Smith and Gabe Merrell, two OSU campus leaders in universal design and accessibility, met with the College of Education Hybrid Study Group on March 5 to discuss universal design for instruction. Martha is Director of Disability Access Services, and Gabe is Senior Accessibility Associate and Deputy ADA Coordinator in the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Gabe and Martha emphasized the importance of considering universal design up front in the development of teaching materials, instructional methods and means of assessing student learning. They also noted that universal design benefits all learners. The principles of universal design offer guidance for the design of all elements of an instructor’s toolkit, from syllabi to presentation style, to class activities and exams. As OSU serves an increasingly diverse student population, universal design can enhance learning in the classroom, the lab, in the field, and online.
In what ways are you implementing universal design in your teaching?