When applied to learning, Universal Design becomes a framework for teaching and learning that addresses the widest possible variety of learning needs, styles, and preferences. It recognizes that each of us has preferred modes of receiving and processing information or demonstrating knowledge and abilities.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 defines UDL as a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that: Provides for flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and Reduces the barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient. (Section 103(24).
UDL is about creating flexible, accessible learning materials and environments to enhance the learning success of ALL learners. The incorporation of additional assistive technologies and media is a major component of creating flexible materials for learning. The Center for Applied Special Technology(CAST), home of the UDL concept, is a leader in the research and development of technologies to support and enhance learning. A collection of learning tools can be found at their website: http://www.cast.org/learningtools/
A great deal of research and model development related to UDL in public school K -12 education has occurred and continues to be a focus of CAST. In cooperation with CAST founders, UDL@UVM is adapting this model to higher education and supporting faculty at the University of Vermont with implementation of UDL practices in their courses.
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