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Learn About
Universal
Design in
Education

Why UDE and not UDL?

Students involved in postsecondary education must successfully perform hundreds of different types of tasks during a study term. These tasks range from successfully registering for courses, paying for courses, waking before morning classes, finding sufficient nutrition to be mentally engaged during classes, getting to classes, physically managing course books, using computers, accessing materials, completing assignments, taking tests etc. Successfully navigating through a day, much less a term, of educational activities requires access to physical spaces and buildings, information systems, as well as courses, services and curriculum.

While successful learning of knowledge and skills is the clear goal, successful management of the entire educational experience is the demand. Optimal universal design in postsecondary education revolves around creating better designs for all areas of activity in which a student participates. Difficulty in accessing any one of these hundreds of activities can throw a students education in jeopardy.

Universal Design in Learning might be the best description of interventions specific to course and curriculum. The overall need for universal design in postsecondary education is broader than direct learning activities, however. Thus, a broader term was preferred. We chose Universal Design in Education (UDE) as the most representative terms to describe the scope of UD addressed by the ACCESS-ed Project.

"...Even though I was flunking English because I couldn't spell; in my high school year book under ambitions I had written 'Author'. When I went off to college I ran into a guy at the University of Oregon named Ralph Salisbury who was my first creative writing instructor and he turned all the lights on for me. He was the first teacher in all my years who actually said I had talent. Some people don't know this, but I have dyslexia."

Stephen J. Cannell, Emmy award winning television producer, writer, novelist