Universal Education Access and Design for Instruction
We have developed this workshop to help spur you to consider ways to supplement and complement your effectiveness as an educator. We do not expect it to revolutionize your thinking and activities but to be a resource. Educators today face a plethora of challenges. Our students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, and country of origin, help make up the diverse tapestry of the university environment. English is the second—or third— or fourth—language of some students. Students also bring other diverse attributes including sex, sexual orientation, learning styles, and physical, psychological, and emotional characteristics. Increasing numbers of students with disabilities are pursuing post-secondary education. Most of us are being asked to do more with increasingly diverse students; all in an era of diminishing resources.
Social policies such as affirmative action and reasonable accommodation have been developed to ensure colleges and universities provide access to “minorities.” Universal access moves one step beyond. In contrast to reasonable accommodation, in which we modify classroom and university environments for students, faculty and staff who are atypical from the majority, universal education access requires us to plan, up-front, to meet the needs of a broad range of individuals and groups. This universal approach can reduce he burden of modifying the environment to accommodate individuals’ unique needs.
The workshop introduces you to six common-sense UEA principles. We have found that applying these concepts promotes students’ success without compromising academic standards. UEA may require increased initial investment of time and effort, but in the long run, applying UEA improves efficiency and enhances effectiveness. You may also want to review the works of others as well. As we began our work, we found Chickering and Gamson’s book, “Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education,” and the websites of the University of Minnesota, Office of Multicultural and Academic Affairs; the University of Washington DO-IT; and the University of Guelph Universal Instructional Design Project to be good resources.