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UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0: Research Evidence

Checkpoint 4.2: Optimize access to tools and assistive technologies

II. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Physical Action


The research evidence in this category is minimal and suffers, undoubtedly, from the same apparent “face validity” of the advantages in "response and navigation.” For students with physical and motor disabilities, the advantages of providing alternative tools and assistive technologies is so evident that researchers have not adequately researched their actual advantages for learning. The available research is also widely scattered in terms of the types of options provided (e.g., switch options, overlays, alternative keyboards, etc.). Scholarly reviews are devoted most often to highlighting best practices and comparative techniques.

udlcenter [at] cast [dot] org (Do you have )udlcenter [at] cast [dot] org (additional )udlcenter [at] cast [dot] org (evidence to support this Checkpoint? Tell us! )

Experimental and Quantitative Evidence:

Alper, S., & Raharinirina, S. (2006). Assistive technology for individuals with disabilities: A review and synthesis of the literature. TAM Board Members, 21(2), 47-64.

Lange, A. A., McPhillips, M., Mulhern, G., & Wylie, J. (2006). Assistive software tools for secondary-level students with literacy difficulties. Journal of Special Education Technology, 21(3), 13-22.

Mechling, L. C. (2006). Comparison of the effects of three approaches on the frequency of stimulus activations, via a single switch, by students with profound intellectual disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 40(2), 94.

Norris, C., Sullivan, T., Poirot, J., & Soloway, E. (2003). No access, no use, no impact: Snapshot surveys of educational technology in K-12. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(1), 15-27.

Stoner, J. B., Beck, A. R., Bock, S. J., Hickey, K., Kosuwan, K., & Thompson, J. R. (2006). The effectiveness of the picture exchange communication system with nonspeaking adults. Remedial & Special Education, 27(3), 154-165.

Scholarly reviews and expert opinions:

Behrmann, M., & Schaff, J. (2001). Assisting educators with assistive technology: Enabling children to achieve independence in living and learning. Children and Families, 42(3), 24-28.

Brown, M. R. (2000). Access, instruction, and barriers: Technology issues facing students at risk. Remedial and Special Education, 21(3), 182-192.

Caldwell, B., Cooper, M., Guarino Reid, L. & Vanderheiden, G. Web accessibility guidelines 2.0; guideline 4.1 compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from

George, C. L., Schaff, J. L., & Jeffs, T. (2005). Physical access in today's schools: Empowerment through assistive technology. In D. Edyburn, K. Higgins & R. Boone (Eds.), Handbook of special education technology research and practice (pp. 355-377). Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin: Knowledge by Design, Inc.

Judge, S. (2006). Constructing an assistive technology toolkit for young children: Views from the field. Journal of Special Education Technology. 21(4), 17-24.

Lee, C. M. (1999). Learning disabilities and assistive technology: An emerging way to touch the future. Amherst, MA: McGowan.

Lewis, R. B. (1998). Assistive technology and learning disabilities: Today's realities and tomorrow's promises. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 31(1), 16-26, 54.

Lodge, J. (2000). Will the overlay board survive in the mainstream primary classroom? Closing the Gap, 18(6), 16-17.

Lueck, A. H., Dote-Kwan, J., Senge, J. C., & Clarke, L. (2001). Selecting assistive technology for greater independence. RE: View, 33(1), 21-33.

Male, M. (2002). Technology for inclusion: Meeting the special needs of all students (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

McKenna, M. C., & Walpole, S. (2007). Assistive technology in the reading clinic: Its emerging potential. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(1), 140-145.

Newton, D. A., Case, D. A., & Bauder, D. K. (2002). No- and low-tech tools to access the general curriculum. Closing the Gap, 21(4), 1-36.

Peterson-Karlan, G. R., Parette, H. P., & Center, S. E. A. T. (2007). Supporting struggling writers using technology: Evidence-based instruction and decision-making, National Center for Technology Innovation.

Raskind, M. H., & Higgins, E. L. (1998). Assistive technology for postsecondary students with learning disabilities: An overview. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 31(1), 27-40.

Research Center, Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd). Using assistive technologies to support writing. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from

Rose, D., Hasselbring, T. S., Stahl, S., & Zabala, J. (2005). Assistive technology and universal design for learning: Two sides of the same coin. In D. Edyburn, K. Higgins & R. Boone (Eds.), Handbook of special education technology research and practice (pp. 507-518). Whitefish Bay, WI: Knowledge by Design.

Thompson, T. (2003). The interdependent roles of all players in making technology accessible. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18(4), 21-28.

Zabala, J., Blunt, M., Carl, D., Davis, S., Deterding, C., Foss, T., et al. (2000). Quality indicators for assistive technology services in school settings. Journal of Special Education Technology, 15(4), 25-36.

Last Updated: 02/03/2011

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