26 | Related Issues in IDEA 2004

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Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for designing curriculum that provides all individuals, including those with learning differences, equal opportunities to learn11. UDL principles call for varied and flexible ways to:

  • Present or access information, concepts, and ideas (the “what” of learning)
  • Plan and execute learning tasks (the “how” of learning)
  • Get engaged - and stay engaged (the “why” of learning)

UDL is referenced throughout the National Educational Technology Plan put forth by the U.S. Department of Education, 2010, to ensure that technology be used to optimize the diversity of learners.

AT and Oklahoma’s Academic Standards

The standards identify the knowledge and skills students need in order to be successful in college and careers. The intent is that “All students must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post–high school lives. ... The Standards should also be read as allowing for the widest possible range of students to participate fully from the outset” (State Standards Initiative).

Instruction for students with disabilities must incorporate supports and accommodations, including:

  • Those designed to meet the unique needs of these students and to enable their access to the general  education curriculum6.
  • An IEP which includes annual goals aligned with grade level academic standards.
  • Teachers and specialized instructional support personnel who are prepared and qualified to deliver high quality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services.

Students with disabilities may need additional supports and services, such as:

  • Instructional supports for learning - based on the principles of UDL - which foster student engagement by presenting information in multiple ways and allowing for diverse avenues of action and expression.
  • Instructional accommodations (Thompson, Morse, Sharpe & Hall, 2005) - changes in materials or procedures - which do not change the standards but allow students to learn within the framework of the State Standards.
  • AT devices and services to ensure access to the general education curriculum and the State Standards.