2002 Conference Proceedings

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Implementing Universal Design for Assessment Planning and Accommodations of Students With Disabilities at a Postsecondary Level

Presenters:
Daniel Dickman and Fred Gromand
El Paso Community College, Center for Students with Disabilities
P.O. Box 20500
El Paso, TX 79998
Phone: 915-831-2004
Fax: 915-831-2244
danield@epcc.edu 
fredg@epcc.edu

The focus of the workshop will be to demonstrate to postsecondary providers of service to persons with disabilities (college staff, faculty, Para-professionals, multi-disciplinary professionals) the types of Universal Design accommodations that have and can be developed, implemented and utilized within the post-secondary setting to improve the opportunities for persons with disabilities to succeed in meeting their personal, educational, professional, and life goals.

Problem:

1. Students Numbers at CSD have climbed from 520 students served in 1995 to 1300 in 2001. The budget has not increased significantly. How do we serve the additional students ion a legal and ethical manner.

2.The students requiring intensive support and accommodation services (in-class services, multiple accommodations) have increased substantially over the past 4 years. How do we continue to meet the cost intensive needs of these students in a legal and ethical manner?

3. More students with more significant disabilities are being referred to the Center For Students With Disabilities for adjunct services (assistance with O.T., P.T., Speech Evaluations) that relate to assistive and adaptive technology. The Center has become a de-facto referral source for AT evaluations for students who will be attending college, those who need postsecondary training that may or may not be provided at college, or are just being evaluated for the provision of commu8nity based services.

4.As we plan for the future physical and curricular needs of EPCC students how can we assure that ALL students have equal access and opportunity to all programs and services offered at EPCC without access having to be "retrofitted in an inefficient, costly, and exclusive manner.

Answer:

Adoption of Universal Design for Learning

Underlying Premises

As a new paradigm for teaching, learning, assessment and curriculum development, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) draws upon and extends principals of universal design as used in architecture and product design.

Architects practicing universal design create structures, which accommodate the widest spectrum of users possible, including those with disabilities. In universally designed environments adaptability is subtle and integrated into the design.

Designing for the divergent needs of special populations increases usability for everyone. The curb cut is a classic example. Although they were originally designed to help those in wheel chairs negotiate curbs, curb cuts ease travel for those pushing carriages, riding skateboards, pedestrians with canes, as well as, the average walker.

UDL shifts old assumptions about teaching and learning in these fundamental ways:

1.Teacher adjustments for learner differences should occur for all students, not just those with disabilities

2.Assesmnent and recommendation of services for students with disabilities, whether they will be attending a postsecondary institution of higher Ed or some other training and job skill preparation organization, will benefit from utilizing UDL methodologies in their work with prospective employees or employers.

3.Curriculum materials should be varied and diverse including digital and online resources, rather than centering on a single textbook

Instead of remediating students, potential employees, or prospective community clients, so that they can learn from a set curriculum, curriculum should be made flexible (within parameters of the course / accreditation requirements / job training program) to accommodate learner differences.

The "universal" in universal design does not imply one optimal solution for everyone. Rather, it reflects an awareness of the unique nature of each learner and the need to accommodate differences, creating learning experiences that suit the learner and maximize his or her ability to progress.

Central tenets of universal design are being expanded and applied in the development of products, transit systems, public and private buildings, and the design of electronic media and Web sites.

This program will explore these and other pertinent issues from a broad perspective and provide application to persons with disabilities and those that work with them in age of range from adolescent still in high school to those students planning on attending postsecondary training and education or independently seeking a job.


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