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Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2007, Volume 31, No. 2,167-169

Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2007, Volume 31, No. 2,167-169

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Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
2007,Volume
31,
No. 2,167-169Copyright 2007 Trustees of Boston UniversityDOi;10.2975/31.2.2007.167.169
EDUCATION &TRA1NING
Universal Design for Learning
V
Charles Bernacchio
University of North Carolinaat Chapel Hill
MicheUe Mullen
University of Medicine and Dentistryof New Jersey
i
he concept of universal design (UD)emerged from architectural design ofbuildings that offer access for all whoenter them. An innovation that waspromulgated following state and feder-al legislation, UD is now required in allpublic buildings to make them fully ac-cessible to the widest spectrum ofusers, including people with disabili-ties (Mace, 1997). The extension of UDto Universal Design for Learning (UDL)emerged in two key ways: throughbuilt-in flexibility and through im-proved access to information andlearning (Rose & Meyer, 2002).One simple example of flexibility in ed-ucational or training curricula is theuse of digitized forms of readings andmaterials, making them available elec-tronically through a computer. A fullyflexible curriculum ultimately requiresinstructors to inject flexibility into threecore elements of teaching/learning:setting goals, selecting materials andmethods to support students in reach-ing their goals, and designing accurateongoing assessments (Rose & Meyer,2002). Within a UDL context, learnershave a responsibility to be activelythinking about their needs and prefer-ences for knowledge and skills, basedon their capacity to learn and their un-derstanding of their own learningstrengths and limitations. Guided
self-
evaluation can be a highly effectivestrategy to increase students' success.
EDUCATION
Promoting increased access to learningrequires clarifying the instructionalgoals in order to match needed typesand levels of support to the demandsofthe learning environment. A broadconcept of access requires courses bedesigned using web-based platforms,digital resources, support through li-brary and media services, and alter-nate formats, such as digital text for allcourse documents, readings, and sup-plemental course materials. Accessalso must be fostered in all assign-ments, activities, and relationships inorder to connect students to a range ofteaching materials, instructional re-sources, and learning pathways.The UDL framework provides guidancefor creating flexible curricula and in-structional environments, and for usingtechnology to maximize success for allstudents, including those with physicaland/or psychiatric disabilities.Flexibility requires variation in themodalities through which informationis presented, in the opportunities pro-vided to students for expressing theirknowledge and demonstrating compe-tencies, and through engagementamong students in a learning commu-nity that offers choices, incentives,supports, and learning contexts.Transforming educational structures toimprove access creates more equitableand socially just learning environments(Pliner & Johnson, 2004).
167
 
PSYCHIATRIC REHABILITATION )OURNAL
Universal Design
for
Learning
By promoting responsive practices thatadjust to individual needs, UDL
mini-
mizes attention to disabilities and im-pairments, reduces the need forrequiring disclosure of disability, andshifts the institutional focus towardsspecific skill areas that are critical tolearning.Greater flexibility in curricu-lum and instruction also can increasesupportive exchange and interactionbetween student peers, as well as be-tween students and instructors. TheUDL learning community evolving fromthese interactions results in socializa-tion and a sense of membership withinthe academic culture, which helps stu-dents achieve a scholarly identity,rather than just to cope with their
limi-
tations—an outcome valued by stu-dents with disabilities (Daugherty,Campana, Kontos, Flores, & Shaw,1996).
Guiding Principles of tJDt
The Center on Postsecondary Educationand Disability (CPED) at the Universityof Connecticut (http//:www.cped.uconn.edu) has created a resourcebank for post-secondary education offaculty-designed instructional materi-als that meet UD principles Qorgenson& Weir, 2002). Beyond access (or
"equitableness"),
flexibility,
and thedevelopment ofa
community of learn-ers,
the principles of Universal Designfor Learning identified by the CPEDinclude:
Simple and intuitive
instruction thatis designed in a straightforwardand predictable manner, regardlessofthe student's experience, knowl-edge, language, skills, or currentconcentration level;
Perceptible information
that is com-municated effectively to the user re-gardless of ambient conditions
(e.g.,
light and noise level) or theuser's sensory abilities, which mayrequire multiple instructionalmodalities
(e.g.,
readings, slides.summary handouts, and audio-recordings);
Tolerance
for error
within the cur-riculum that anticipates individualvariations in learning pace and pre-requisite skills, which may includemultiple pathways for practice andexpression, prompts for multi-steptasks, a rubric or checklist thatguides students in self-assess-ment, opportunities for revision,and/or students working in pairs tomonitor and assess their mastery ofthe content;
Low
physical
effort,
when possible,that allows maximum attention tolearning while acknowledging that,in some instances, physical effort isintegral to essential requirementsofa course;
Size
and
space
for approach anduse
that takes into account the stu-dents' approach, reach, manipula-
tion,
and use of equipment andmaterials, regardless of body size,posture, mobility, and communica-tion needs;
Instructional climate
that creates awelcoming and inclusive environ-ment, while maintaining high ex-pectations for all students.Effective UDL practices also must incor-porate ongoing evaluation of students'learning. Assessments need to accu-rately measure the specific outcomesrelevant to course objectives and to in-dividualized student goals, while al-lowing for necessary supports andaccommodations. By using scoringrubrics or study guides, and providingthem to students, clear expectationsfor performance will help to facilitatestudent self-assessment and learning.Although UDL is not intended to avoidthe use of accommodations in theclassroom and in testing, providing al-ternate assessment formats for demon-strating knowledge will reduce theneed for accommodations by consider-ing the needs of diverse learners.Applying UDL can help address the his-torical difficulties experienced by stu-dents with psychiatric disabilities inpost-secondary settings (Unger, 1990;Megivern,Pellerito, & Mowbray, 2003;Mowbray, Bybee, & Collins, 2001).Supported education strategies andtechniques (Blacklock, Benson, &Johnson, 2003; Unger, 1990) will be en-hanced by applying a UDL lens to cur-riculum development and instruction.The UDL perspective embraces the ideaof instructor creativity in developingteaching strategies and assessmenttechniques that are effective for alllearners, while still maintaining the in-tegrity ofthe course and achieving itsobjectives. UDL creates a learning cul-ture in which diversity is accepted andembraced, and where all students areencouraged to learn and demonstratetheir knowledge in a variety of waysOorgenson &Weir, 2002).
References
Blacklock, B., Benson, B., &
Johnson,
D.(2003). Weeds
assessment
project:
Exploring
barriers and opportunities for
college students
with psychiatric
disabili-
ties.
Retrieved March 12, 2004, fromAssociation for Higher Education andDisabilities: www.ahead.org.Daugherty, S.
J.,
Campana, K. A., Kontos,
R.
A.,Flores, M. K., Lockhart, R. S, & Shaw, D. D.(1996). Supported education: A qualitativestudy ofthe student experience.
Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Journal,
19(3)
59-71-
Jorgenson, C. M., & Weir, C. (2002, Spring).Reflections on teaching. In
Equity &Excellence
in Higher
Education
newsletter.Retrieved fromhttp://iod.unh.edu/projects/equity_excel
lence.html.Mace,
R. (1997). Principles of universal design.North Carolina State University. RetrievedFebruary, 2007 from The Center forUniversal Design,
NCSU
Website:http://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/pubs_p/ppubpdflist.htm.
 
FALL 2007—VOLUME 31 NUMBER 2
Megivern,
D., Pellerito, S., & Mowbray, C.(2003). Barriers to higher education for in-dividuals with psychiatric disabilities.
Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Journal,
26(3),
217-231.
Mowbray,
C.
T., Bybee, D., & Collins, M. E.(2001). Follow-up client satisfaction in asupported education program.
PsychiatricRehabilitation
Journal,
24(3), 237-247.
Pliner,
S. M. &
Johnson,
J.
R. (2004). Historical,
theoretical,
and foundational principles ofuniversal design in higher education.
Equity & Excellence
in Education, 37,
105-113.
Rose,
D. H. &
Meyer,
A. (2002).
Teaching every
student
in
a digital age:
Universal
designfor
learning.
Alexandria,
VA:
Associationfor Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment.
Unger,
K. V. (1990). Supported postsecondaryeducation for people with mental illness.
American
Rehabilitation,
14,10-14.
CHARLES BERNACCHIO, EOD, CRC, UNIVERSITY OFNORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL.MICHELLE MULLEN, M.S., CRC,
CPRP,
UNIVERSITYOF MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY.

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