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Volume 28, Number 6
November/December 2012

Bringing UDL into the Mainstream

Districts seek ways to implement universal design


Students in the Bartholomew (Ind.) Consolidated Schools learn about continental plate movement using graham crackers and icing.

For the past several years, new teachers joining the Bartholomew (Ind.) Consolidated School Corporation have been encouraged to watch a video introducing the preferred method of teaching in the district. Rather than highlighting a single approach, however, the video is all about encouraging teachers to use varied ways and materials to present new information and to assess learning, be it aurally through talking iPads, visually through doodles on whiteboards, creatively through art projects and games, or by using old-fashioned pen and paper. That’s because the preferred method of teaching in Bartholomew County is UDL, or Universal Design for Learning.

“When a building is designed, it is made accessible,” says the narrator of the video entitled UDL in Five Minutes, which in itself models the approach by incorporating text, visuals, and speech. “Ramps are put in. Braille is posted. The fire alarms have flashing lights, and restrooms are made accessible. These are just a few of the accommodations experts take into account when designing a building. They do not wait to see who will be entering the building or using the space. Instead, they design the building so it is automatically accessible to most people. This is how teachers implementing UDL approach lesson planning.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.