ae1 : Disability

Universal design for instruction (UDI)

I learnt a new word : Heterogeneous. It means diverse in character / content.

UDI is about :

  1. Anticipating this diversity among users.
  2. Proactively meeting diverse user needs.

There are 9 principals (I’ve tried to outline some of the ways I provide UDI learning and teaching within my classroom in bold after each entry) :

  1. Equitable use – useful and accessible to people with diverse abilities. I make class materials available online and in handout format. Notes are typed in sans serif fonts which are easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read. Supporting text with images and visa versa means greater accessibility for students with differing learning styles.
  2. Flexibility in use – designed to accomodate a wide range of abilities. With large groups there is an inevitable diversity of ability particulalry with digital literacy issues. This means it is important to provide a grounding for students of lower ability while giving students who are more able tasks that can challenge them and encourage independent learning (the holy grail of software tutition) whist more support may be needed for others. The fear here is that the best students loose interest if the level or pace of the class is too low.
  3. Simple and intuitive – straightforward Who sets out to make their classes unnecessarily complicated and inaccessible? I like task based approahes to learning where they are appropriate as the students can see something in context and there is a easily understandable journey for them to reference.
  4. Perceptible information – communicated effectively regardless of conditions or sensory abilities. I check rooms in advance to make sure projection / display facilities are functioning properly. I encourage students to sit where they can see and hear. I discourage idle chat during demonstrations. I also encourage peer support so if a student can see their neighbor has a problem and they can help they should!
  5. Tolerance for error – anticipating variation in learning pace and prerequisite skills.Similar to (2) I try to engage with tasks that the weaker students can work through with support where necessary but that don’t limit the stronger students. In an ideal situation the latter will master the basics of the tool or technique and delve deeper into its use, incorporating their own ideas and creativity. This in turn is inspiring to weaker students. Peer review during class lets people share and discuss their experiences with the work.
  6. Low physical effort – minimum effort to allow maximum attention to learning. I discourage students sitting uncomfortably or where they have to strain to see the demonstrations. Computer teaching rooms are equipped with good mobile seating and sensible height desks. Monitors are easy to re-position.
  7. Size and space for approach and use – regardless of body size, mobility and communication needs. Where necessary provision for equipment can be negotiated if a students needs are declared. For example we have a regular open access user suffering from muscular issues so provision has been made for a special mouse and keyboard mat. She also receives direct staff support for operating this equipment.
  8. Community of learners – promote interaction and communication among students and faculty. I use peer discussions and reference my own communities of practice as well as online communities and encouraging students to talk about the class content with friends and colleagues as a way of improving their skill set and feeling like they belong.
  9. Instructional climate – welcoming and inclusive. I feel the first ten minutes of the first lesson with a new cohort of students is very important! First impressions count lol! I have to establish a balance of welcoming friendliness and a class room demenour conducive to good working. Friendly and fun but not so much so ti becomes unprofessional. I always try to ask students if they need extra support or if their are further questions and provide options for how that support can be provided.

The instructional cycle :

  1. Planning. 
  2. Delivery.
  3. Assessing learning.

It is still important to be mindful of the effectiveness of implementing instructional strategies.



6 thoughts on “ae1 : Disability

  1. Thanks Adam

    You have given really good contextual examples of how you work to be inclusive.

    I agree that students can find the work of other students inspiring (point 5) and it can be really helpful to share work. Peer review can be very powerful and help make sense of things half understood. However I have also noticed that sometimes students can feel a bit crushed and inadequate when they compare their work.

    I also agree with you about striking a balance between a fun and professional atmosphere. I think this approach pretty much reflects my experience working as a photographer. There’s an expectation that everyone will do their job (really well) on a shoot but it doesn’t need to be solemn or serious.



    1. Hi James,

      its an interesting issue that you raise regarding students confidence in their work and comparing it to others…

      I agree the results could leave some questioning the quality of their work, nut I think its good to encourage cross pollination of ideas and engage students in COP type experiences. Being unhappy wih your work is not necesssarily a bad thing….


  2. Hi Adam

    I always enjoy reading your entries as you break the task down into sections and identify each point within the section, which I find detailed and easy to read.

    I couldn’t agree more with you about the benefits of peer support.
    Within each year group, the students are at very different skills set with regard to their sewing ability.
    During the basic sewing classes, I’ve been teaching, I’ve found placing them round a table in one group has been very positive as they’ve learnt from each other, not only through watching the sewing technique being performed but also by questioning the process. I’m hoping this is encouraging a more transformative level of learning too!

    Thanks again,



    1. Glad uv found them helpful Verity. I have certainly benefited from the different approaches our different group members have taken to these blogs.

      Peer learning techniques are definitely the flavour of the month with me… I’m excited to work them into my classes for next term.


  3. This is spelled out really clearly and given me some ideas about how I could adjust my own teaching into a more UDI way.
    I like your comment about point (3) too – yes, who would set out to be complicated and inaccessible. When I’m teaching politics, I try to relate it to the students’ own previous experiences or as journalists, so hopefully it makes more sense. I’m also a fan of picture slides to get their attention – I have a great one to illustrate Party Whips!


    1. Not sure I want to see the party whips illustration lol.

      I think personal experiential starting points are a great way to engage students, it sort of side steps issues of directing students to look at examples from my own experience / feild of reference… when I think about my own creative process it is very introverted so it makes sense that my students respond well to being encourage to engage with their own point of view.


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