University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI), Universal Design for Learning

UDL Grant History

Photo: Susan Edelman and Larry Shelton.The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) grant, entitled Supporting Faculty to Teach all Students: A Universal Design Consulting Team Model, is a $1 million, three year grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant began October 1, 2008 and ran through September 30, 2011

Susan Edelman and Larry Shelton, co-principal investigators on a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, say the program they'll help develop over the next three years will be a resource for faculty to improve the academic experience of students with disabilities, though the strategies they learn are likely to benefit all learners. (Photo: Sally McCay)

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Universal Design - Abstract

Supporting Faculty to Teach All Students: A Universal Design Consulting Team Model - Demonstration Projects to Ensure Students with Disabilities Receive a Quality Higher Education (CFDA 84.333A)

Diversity among college and university students across the nation increases each year. Among those are students with disabilities, some of whom until recently might never have considered to pursue higher education, and some for whom successful completion of courses or programs has been difficult. Universal Design (UD), a concept that emerged from the field of architecture, keeps with the wisdom that, rather than provide an accommodation or adaptation to an individual who has specific needs as an afterthought, it is more efficient and effective to design from the start in such a way that everyone and anyone can have access, regardless of personal characteristics. The overall goal of this project is to develop a system of campus-wide supports and resources for the creation of learning environments and experiences that serve the diverse learning needs of UVM students based upon principles of Universal Design (UD), and to increase the use of UD principles and practices by faculty members campus-wide.

Grant Objectives

Objective 1: To develop a comprehensive Resource Map of UVM's current resources for faculty, staff and students with respect to UD.
  • Select materials and method(s) for gathering information from all departments and units on campus related to universal design practices, support for students with disabilities, and support for faculty instructional practices.
  • Conduct surveys, observations, interviews, collect materials from all departments and units.
  • Compile data.
  • Design dissemination materials/media, checking for any new additions.
  • Disseminate/launch Resource Map materials/media including web-based materials and web site.
Objective 2: To measure faculty attitudes, knowledge and experiences of disability, UD, and accommodations as baselines for this project, as well as for future studies of change over time.
  • Review research on faculty attitudes and knowledge on disabilities; attitudinal change, and its measurement.
  • Construct pilot survey and focus interviews to assess faculty attitudes, knowledge, and experiences of disability and of accommodation.
  • Conduct focus group interviews of sample of students and faculty.
  • Revise and conduct online survey of students, faculty and staff.
  • Compile data.
  • Analyze and summarize data.
  • Report data summary.
  • Repeat measures annually.
  • Analyze, summarize, and report.
  • Plan long-term follow-up.
Objective 3: To develop a model of collaborative technical assistance and training using Universal Design Consulting Teams to assist faculty teaching students with disabilities by providing semester-long assistance with problem-solving, creative applications, and technology support for implementing UD.
  • Create and convene a UD Design Team (selection, commitments, logistic arrangements).
  • Design model of TA provision to faculty including a targeted marketing and referral process, TA needs assessment, TA Action Plan development, scheduling of TA activities, provision of equipment support, training, and any other implementation steps, and formative and summative evaluation of activities.
  • Determine method for identifying faculty and tech personnel to become Consulting Team members.
  • Select and organize three UD Consulting Teams consisting of Consulting Faculty, Grad Assistant, and Tech.
  • Provide training to selected UD Consulting Teams.
  • Develop and launch dissemination strategies for referral request for TA Team support across all departments on campus for one semester for up to 15 faculty.
  • Respond to referrals as assigned and implement the model.
  • Conduct ongoing evaluation of consultation process and effects and provide follow up TA each semester with each counselee.
Objective 4: To infuse into orientation activities for all new faculty and Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs) basic knowledge and information about tools and resources to support the use of UDL and accommodations for students with diverse learning needs and identified disabilities.
  • Develop materials/media for orientation including brief, dynamic presentation(s), web-based information and materials packets, brochures, articles in collaboration with Tech Consultants, CTL staff, ACCESS staff, and Office of the Provost.
  • Disseminate presentation and materials.
  • Conduct follow-up with all new faculty and GTFs to assess their need for support or information and to offer TA.
  • Provide follow-up TA with faculty who request assistance/materials/information.
Objective 5: To develop a comprehensive system of resources on UD for UVM faculty, staff and students that is readily accessible, user-friendly, and builds upon the work of the New England Consortium for Equity and Excellence in Higher Education (E&E), and regional and national leaders in UD, extending it to include contributions of UVM faculty, staff and students developed through this project.
  • Research books, articles, studies and web sources for information on disabilities, accommodations, and UD tools and strategies in higher education.
  • Design comprehensive UD web site for UVM, including information on disabilities and their academic implications.
  • Develop a multi-media resource packet (disc) to assist faculty in understanding specific disabilities and UD applications to syllabus development, instruction, student assessment of learning, and accessible learning environments.
  • Select specific technology applications with wide applicability and design CTL workshops.
  • Evaluate on-line and all other resources for usefulness, relevance, and accessibility enter on Independent Living and the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights.

The proposed project addresses the need to increase use of principles of UD and to improve the quality of UVM academic offerings to students with disabilities. Project staff will work collaboratively with ACCESS services, student groups and the Center for Teaching and Learning personnel to develop, implement, and evaluate the technical assistance model and all training and dissemination activities.

Anticipated outcomes of the project include:

  • increased knowledge of UD among first year faculty and GTF's; increased demonstration of effective UD practices by faculty who use the consulting services;
  • increased satisfaction of students with course instruction and learning experiences with target faculty;
  • improved course completion and retention rates for students with disabilities in target courses;
  • increased awareness across the campus community of disability as a dimension of diversity;
  • and widespread awareness of UD and supporting resources available

This project will contribute to better integration of UD practices and knowledge of accommodation pedagogy to the benefit of all students.

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