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Universal Design: Designing an Inclusive Classroom
Universal Design: Designing an Inclusive Classroom
Examples of Inclusive Design for the Classroom:
Provide a detailed syllabus in writing and electronically.
Include a disability statement in the syllabus.
Offer up front to speak privately with students about any special needs and how you can best support them.
Provide assignments, instructions, and due dates both orally and in writing, and give reminders as due dates approach.
Use a lot of white space on handouts.
Provide any announcements both orally and in writing, especially changes to assignments or exams.
Provide clear rules and reinforce these regularly. For example, provide instructions on the maximum number of times a student should make comments or ask questions in a class period. If you want students to email you questions or bring copies of their exams when they come speak with you, provide these rules upfront.
Use clear, simple language and speak slowly while facing the class. Try not to speak when facing away from the class.
Use yellow chalk if writing on a chalkboard. Use dark blue or black markers if writing on a white board.
Provide scratch paper.
Use person-first language, such as “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.”
Avoid emotionally-charged language such as “a person confined/bound to a wheelchair” and use “person who uses a wheelchair” instead.
Give frequent feedback so that errors or misunderstandings can be corrected early.
Offer height and width-adjustable equipment/chairs/tables or various options.
Allow the tape recording of lectures.
Be flexible with attendance in cases of inclement weather.
If a students is frequently late, talk to them privately to see if this is related to a disability and needs flexibility.
Some disabilities can cause unavoidable absences without advance notice. Talk to the student privately and see if this is the case and if flexibility is needed.
Utilize multiple formats for conveying content, such as lecture, discussion, visual aids (e.g., PowerPoints, videos), field trips, guest speakers, etc. Attempt to convey information in ways that will utilize various learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.).
Provide an outline of what will be covered at the start of each class period.
Provide auditory cues for key concepts.
Ensure that there is not a window behind you that could obscure your face. Make sure there is bright lighting so your face can be seen.
Read material aloud that is written on the board.
Provide PDF version of handouts in HTML or RTF formats instead.
Provide material in a format that can be adjusted by the user (e.g., text can be enlarged, contrast can be modified, sound can be increased, colors can be changed).
Permit the use of calculators on math exams and permit the use of dictionaries on essay exams. Give less weight to spelling if spelling is not essential.
Avoid exam questions that are overly complicated in structure, that use double negatives, or that ask questions within questions.
Use captions in videos and provide transcripts/lecture notes/PowerPoints for orally-provided materials.
Use headings and lists.
Use Blackboard Collaborate to stream or record lectures and Panopto to transcribe them for students. Consider allowing students to remotely participate in class.
Provide descriptions (in text or verbally) for images/photos/graphics.
Vary the way content is demonstrated (e.g., traditional written exams, presentations, discussion groups, reflection journals, etc.).
Encourage the use of audiobooks or e-books with screenreaders.
Embed support for content into the text (e.g., use hyperlinks with definitions, pronunciations).
Provide a study guide with lists of important concepts/terms. Offer opportunities for review/practice sessions. Revisit and link key concepts often.
Provide translation tools or links.
Connect current learning to prior learning, and associate learning with cultural and social contexts.
Minimize distractions in class (e.g., close windows/doors to limit outside noises).
Provide alternative formats for tasks (e.g., Scantrons, handwriting, typing, etc.).
Provide goals/objectives and checklists to enable students to monitor their academic behaviors. Offer opportunities for them to practice prioritizing, problem-solving, explaining their work, checking their work, etc.
Chunk information. Break larger tasks/goals into smaller and more easily achievable goals/tasks.
Ask before providing assistance.
Use scoring rubrics with clear information about how students will be evaluated.
Use different methods of self-assessment in class (such as peer reviews, video reviews, social media posting and feedback, roleplays).
Provide a review of major points in the previous class and highlight main points to be covered that day.
Ask questions that prompt self-reflection and self-monitoring.
Incorporate different types of diversity into the overall curriculum.
Provide tasks and activities that are participatory in nature.
Create a safe place for learning in your class by setting up a class climate of acceptance and support.
Utilize assignments that focus on diverse people.
Provide a schedule/calendar and give advance notice of upcoming tasks or assignments to allow them time to prepare, particularly if the assignments may create anxiety (such as public speaking).
Foster a sense of community in the class and create a community of learners. Support opportunities for engagement and group work by providing very clear and specific goals, descriptions of roles, and responsibilities.
Provide frequent and timely feedback that encourages completion of tasks, self-efficacy, and the use of specific and targeted supports.
When providing feedback, give it in a way that is substantive and informative instead of comparative and competitive.
Provide charts, aids, tools that enable students to collect and monitor their own progress and thus encourage self-efficacy, motivation, and independence.
Offer alternative assignments if a student cannot participate in the assignment if they can meet the essential requirements another way.
In the event of a medical emergency in class, contact Campus Security (x5555) or 911 immediately for help. Most instructors are not trained in providing medical care—err on the side of extreme caution in these situations. If a student has a medical emergency, offer some flexibility with attendance immediately following the incident.
Keep in mind that not all disabilities are immediately visible. Many disabilities cannot be seen (e.g., depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.).
When possible, allow students to have drinks or snacks in class.
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Updated on July 23, 2020
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