Universal Design for Learning at the University of Vermont

Universal Connections for UDL @ UVM


I am struck repeatedly by how the Universal Design for Learning principles at the core of our project reach so far and so widely into the fabric of the university. We knew at the beginning that we would be deeply involved with faculty and their courses and with students with disabilities. But we have quickly learned that we are connected with other constituencies and furthering the mission of the university in many more ways. Among the connections are:
• the challenge to retain more of all students who are admitted, not just students with disabilities;
• the obligations of teacher education programs to incorporate UDL into the preparation of pre-service teachers, so graduates are prepared to use them in their own teaching from pre-school through high school;
• the goal to increase the number and success of first-generation college students;
• improving the university’s ability to serve the needs of the growing number of immigrant and refugee families and students in Vermont;
• the effort to increase the number of international students at the university, the traditional one or two semester visitors, but especially those who will be completing degrees at UVM;
• the desire of staff and student services generally to be more welcoming of the increasingly diverse students, staff, and faculty in our community, and more successful in meeting their needs on campus;
• the obligation of the university to provide accessible facilities and services to all, in every area;
• the connection between Universal Design for Learning and effective marketing and communications within the university and from the university to prospective students, staff, and faculty, and to alumni;
• the desire of department chairs and deans to promote effective faculty development;
• the deep-seated desire of most faculty to be excellent teachers.
I suppose we could say the usefulness of learning UDL is universal in the university. It really is better to Design for Universal Learning.
Larry Shelton

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