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Introduction to Universal Design for Instruction


Applying UDI: Assumptions and Myths

There are several important assumptions to bear in mind when incorporating Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) in courses.

First, universal design is an attitude, not a “prescriptive set of procedures” (Bissonette, n.d., p. 5). UDI requires proactive planning. What works in one course might not work in another. As the instructor, you are the designer of the course. You determine the UDI elements to incorporate based upon your course and its parameters. Academic and technical standards should always be maintained.

Additionally, the term “universal” is not meant to imply that all users can or will use a created design. “Universal” does not mean all-inclusive. Not every student’s learning needs will be met with the application of UDI. Depending on specific situations, some students will still require alternate formats, methods of presentation of information, or methods of response. Rather, accessibility, usability, and effectiveness are goals to strive for in the course design and delivery process.

The UDI Online Project at the University of Connecticut offers a set of “e-Tools” that can be applied to online and technology blended courses as faculty work toward incorporating UDI elements into their instruction. However, UDI is not solely about instructional technology. Instead, the use of technology should always purposefully be matched to a specific pedagogical need or objective. Just as UDI is not just about technology, an e-tool alone is not an example of UDI; rather, it is how the e-tool is used within an instructional environment that creates the application of the Principles of UDI©. As noted on the XL Commons from the University of Montana (2009), it “is not typically the technology that makes the difference to learning achievement itself, but it is how that technology is used in the service of allowing students to achieve learning outcomes of the course.”

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Introduction to UDI Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/introduction-universal-design-instruction.