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Applying The Principles Of Universal Design In The Classroom

November 18, 2004

The Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA) through its Assistive Technology Team provides support to local school districts in the application of the concepts of universal design to learning.

Universal design has been used in architecture and product design for quite some time. A building or product that is designed according to universal design principles meets the needs of a variety of people. For example, universal design has given us curb cuts that work equally well for strollers, luggage with wheels, persons with limited mobility and persons who use wheel chairs.

The principles of universal design translate into the classroom in the following ways:

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

Instructional materials are varied and diverse, rather than centering on a single textbook.

Instead of trying to remediate students so they can learn from set instructional practices, instructional practices are flexible enough to accommodate learner differences.

Students fall along a continuum of learner differences rather than filling separate categories of learners.

Some of the specific instructional devices and aids consistent with universal design that are used in area schools include:

Pencil grips, highlighter tape, Bright Lines paper, Master Ruler, Franklin Spelling Ace, Franklin Spelling Ace with Thesaurus, Franklin Speaking Homework, Visual Time Timer, TextHelp, enlarged graph paper, wiggle seat, Reading Helper, Mathville software, AlphaSmart 3000 with Co:Writer SmartApplet 4000.

For more information about applying the concepts of universal design to learning in our schools, contact one of the following members of the Assistive Technology Team - Cindy Cavanagh ( or Teresa Wyant ( at 1-800-AEA9, extension, 6321.

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