Universal Design for Learning: belonging to education

Saturday, November 2, 2013
First author:
Judith Jansen
Workshop: Belonging in Education

Expertisecentrum handicap + studie, Utrecht, the Netherlands

All authors:

Judith Jansen

Higher education, universal design, diversity

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is quite  unknown in The Netherlands. Handicap + studie, the Dutch expert centre for students with a disability, started spreading the idea of UDL in the field of higher education. By thinking in an UDL way, teachers, students and many more are able to provide all inclusive education. In this session we will introduce the concept of UDL and the importance of UDL for (the art of) belonging of students with a disability to higher education.

UDL is based on the principles of Universal Design, the term launched by the architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.

Universal Design for Learning means designing an educational environment in which diversity among students will become the standard. Flexible curricula are fit to meet with limitations and abilities of all students and retrofitting and individual adjustments are seldom necessary. This will meet the needs of the diversity of all students in higher education. While every student differs in the way in which why, how and what he learns.

In this way UDL stimulates the exchange between the personal and social worlds of studying with disability and supports the art of belonging in which “individuals with disabilities find their places in life, without compromising themselves for the purpose of fitting in”.