Universal Instructional Design

UNIVERSAL1: The premise within UID is that a course designed to accommodate diverse learners will lead to greater success for all students, including those with disabilities.

INSTRUCTIONAL: While serving the needs of individual students, a UID course maintains academic rigour even while offering options and alternatives for delivery of the curriculum.

DESIGN: A methodical approach to course design and delivery, UID integrates all parts of the curriculum. As the very word "design" implies, is a planned, purposeful, deliberate approach to optimizing all of the resources to serve the students and instructors alike.


Instructional materials and activities should...

  1. Be accessible and fair.
    Examples: Multi-modal presentation of course material (visuals, audios, text, discussion, hands-on experience, etc.); invitation to meet with students individually to review their specific needs; online course website with accessible material and asynchronous communication; use of additional learning aids.
  2. Provide flexibility in use, participation and presentation.
    Examples: Develop alternative teaching strategies directed at students' interests and needs; group work to foster peer-to-peer learning; variety of learning resources with different formats and interactivity; online exercises/quizzes.
  3. Be straightforward and consistent.
    Examples: Course materials are presented as clearly and directly as possible; course tools are designed to be straightforward and understandable; concept maps for complex topics; prompt and effective feedback.
  4. Be explicitly presented and readily perceived.
    Examples: Verbal descriptions of images, objects or procedures; when speaking, face the class and use a well-modulated voice; choice of file formats on course website; use information summaries for repetition and reinforcement.
  5. Provide a supportive learning environment.
    Examples: Collaborative learning; drafts of assignments; regular availability to students; connect students with supportive resources.
  6. Minimize unnecessary physical effort or requirements.
    Examples: Course material provided in segments to avoid attention 'burn out'; in laboratories, students work in pairs; minimize clicking and scrolling for information on course website; use of adaptive technology.
  7. Ensure a learning space that accommodates both students and instructional methods.
    Examples: Course website has enough 'white space' for easy navigation; large and small group activities; arrangement of tools and equipment for use by all students; provide space for use of assistive devices.

1 http://www.queensu.ca/hcds/ds/instructors/handbook/strategies/uid.html