Universal Design

Universal design (also known as inclusive design) is a term given to a range of ideas intended to make the environment inherently accessible to all people, especially people with disabilities. For example, universal design refers to architectural features such as dropped curbs for wheelchairs.

The term universal design has also been applied to curriculum. Universal Design Learning (UDL) proposes that instructional methods, materials, and assessments be designed to play to everyone’s unique needs. The three main guidelines of UDL are illustrated on the next page in an image from the UDL Center.org (http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudlcenter).

Additionally, universal design refers to the way we create documents to be accessed, especially by students who use assistive technologies like screen reader software. Making a document accessible is easy. Tutorials can be found on the internet/youtube. Essentially, you use the “Word Styles” on the “Home” tab (the right-hand side of the menu) on Microsoft Word. If you do so, your documents will have a common structure. Here are the basics:

Make Sure your Document is “Normal”

The first option on “Word Styles” is to make your text “normal.” If you click on a body of text and it has been coded as “normal,” the box on the “Word Styles” tab will be outlined. If not, simply highlight the text and click “normal” to achieve this. Afterwards, you may also change fonts and so forth if you wish.

Give Your Documents a Title, Heading, or Subheading

Microsoft Word “Word Styles” lets you create a Title and three different levels of Heading. If you let Microsoft Word do this for you (as opposed to creating Heading and such on your own by changing font and bolding) a screen reader can navigate your document and recognize the structure of your text.

Use Pre-Set Bullet Points and Numbers

Instead of using your keyboard to make bullets and numbers, use the Microsoft Word menu to do this. Using pre-set formats like this will make document navigation easier.

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines