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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.

Disability is part of the natural diversity of human life. It touches all of us, whether through our own individual experience or that of a family member, neighbor, friend or colleague. As such, we all have a role in—and benefit to gain from—advancing equality for people with disabilities in all sectors of society, including the workplace. 

Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez, Office of Disability Employment Policy