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FAQs from the National UDL Task Force

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Administrator FAQs

This fact sheet is intended to support administrators and school leaders implementing Universal Design for Learning in their districts by providing information, materials and examples.

 


Isn't UDL just for students with disabilities?

Absolutely not. UDL certainly benefits students with disabilities. However, all students can benefit from the types of supports that curricula designed using UDL provide. For example, video captioning is of great help to students with hearing impairments, because it provides them with a visual representation of speech. This support is also beneficial to English Language Learners, struggling readers, and even students working in a noisy classroom.

In what ways does UDL provide access to grade level curriculum?

Many people think of access in the purely physical sense. For example, a student in a wheel chair might use an elevator to access higher floors in a building. Although, this type of access is very important, access to learning is far more complex. The UDL framework addresses this complexity by encouraging thoughtful planning of flexible curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) from the start, which meet the needs of all learners.

For example, only providing students with paper text could be problematic, but providing students with flexible digital text is one way to make instructional materials more accessible to all students. A student who has difficulty accessing printed text due to a visual impairment or dyslexia could use the text-to-speech feature. While a student who needs cognitive access could still ‘access’ the same text by using comprehension supports, such as vocabulary definitions, highlighted abstract literary concepts, foreign language translations, or animated coaches that assist with answering comprehension questions.

An important part of UDL is realizing that these supports are also important for students who might be facile with text. For example, a proficient reader might prefer to listen to the text by using the Text-to-Speech function. In short, lots of students benefit from the flexibility and accessibility built into curricula designed using the UDL framework.

What is the role of administrators in UDL implementation?

Administrators are in positions of authority that are critical to programmatic implementation within a school building. Administrators can strengthen learning engagement by:

  • Walking the walk – provide multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement to teachers as well as students;
  • Designing schedules for instructional staff that promote collaboration and utilize educator expertise;
  • Adopting principles of UDL within the school mission;
  • Providing access to an array of professional development opportunities to foster a deeper understanding of differentiated learning strategies for diverse students;
  • Providing teachers with time to discuss and collaborate on their current and future implementation of UDL.

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What legislation calls for the use of UDL?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 have provisions for Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. There have also been considerable efforts to include UDL in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

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UDL and public policy

What is being done to promote the implementation of UDL?

The National UDL Task Force works to incorporate the principles of UDL into federal policy and practice initiatives. Recommendations of the Task Force on teacher and faculty preparation to use UDL strategies were incorporated into the recently passed Higher Education Opportunity Act. Recommendations have been made for the reauthorization of ESEA (NCLB) and will also be made for IDEA. In addition, the Task Force seeks increased dissemination of information about UDL by the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies. See the UDL Toolkit at OSEP IDEAs That Work on ED.gov.

The National UDL Task Force is comprised of more than forty education and disability organizations. View the complete list of organizations.

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UDL advocacy

Where can I find more information?

Please visit our website at udl4allstudents.com or contact Ricki Sabia at rsabia [at] ndss [dot] org (rsabia[at]ndss[dot]org).

The National Center for Universal Design for Learning also contains information about UDL, resources for UDL implementation, and research. It also includes a community section.

Last Updated: 09/06/2011

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