Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students

Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students

Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students

Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students


By taking simple steps in advance of teaching, educators can greatly expand the appeal of instruction on all levels, from K-12 school through colleges and universities to adult or continuing education programs. Using disks, Web pages, language translation software, listservs, and other steps can lower the cost of accommodating to the diverse needs of students with disabilities, older students, students from different cultures, and students with different learning styles, while at the same time enhancing the quality of instruction.


Teachers at all levels, from preschool to K-12 to university programs to adult and continuing education, now deal with a remarkably diverse student population. Growing numbers of students have such disabilities as attention deficits or learning disabilities. Many older students have impairments of heating and of vision. Large numbers of students come from cultural traditions other than the Euro-American, Judeo-Christian Western "white" culture and for this reason bring different expectations to the classroom. Chapter 1 explores the characteristics of these non-traditional students.

Meeting all of the tremendous variety of needs these students present is not something most teachers can do. What is possible is to design and deliver instruction that responds to most of these needs. That is what this book is about.

Universal Design in Education is intended to be used as a handbook. It is not written to be read cover-to-cover. Rather, I suggest that readers spend some time with this executive summary and with Chapters 1-3, becoming familiar with (1) the concept of universal design, (2) how universal design can be applied to education, and (3) how the book is laid out. Chapters 4-7 may be consulted as needed throughout the academic year, as you encounter problems or have questions. Chapter 8, on Web pages, should be read quickly and consulted as needed when you design or update Web pages or refer your students to this or that Web address. The Resources section should be used as neded (e.g., if you want to caption a video); you will find in that section Web a dresses for six (6) captioning companies.

Traditionally, what we have done in education is to accommodate individual needs, without changing courses. For example, we have told deaf students to arrange for sign language interpreters to translate the spoken lectures in the classroom. Similarly, we have relied upon students who are . . .

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