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Inclusive Practice

The minimum accessibility requirements detailed on the accessibility page are useful for making changes to existing content and for ensuring that your content is legal from an accessibility perspective. But if you are designing a lesson or a piece of learning material from scratch, you might want to consider using inclusive practice as a starting point.

Hockings (2010) defines inclusive practice as referring to 'the ways in which pedagogy, curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others.'

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

The Higher Education Opportunity Act describes Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a 'framework for guiding educational practice that provides flexibility in the ways information is provided, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged.' As such UDL is a really good way to ensure that your practice is inclusive and therefore meaningful, relevant and accessible to all learners.

The Seven Principles of Universal Design were first developed in 1997 by architects and product designers, to improve the design of environments, products and communications. These principles have since been refined for educational purposes and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) has developed a practical set of guidelines that can be used to assist you in creating inclusive learning opportunities for your learners. These are applicable to all learners and all subjects. The content is regularly updated and is now based upon three principles:

  1. Providing multiple means of engagement
  2. Providing multiple means of representation
  3. Providing multiple means of action and expression

In terms of engagement, UDL encourages you to consider different ways of motivating your learners. Using authentic assessments that are relevant to learners is one such method. Another is encouraging learners to design their own assessments (i.e. to take ownership of the assessment process). Other common methods include using games to encourage learning and moving learning opportunities away from desks and/or the formal classroom environment.

In terms of representation, UDL recommends providing your learning materials in different formats. These can include (but are not limited to) text, audio, video and images.

In terms of action and expression, UDL encourages you to provide different opportunities for your learners to interact with your learning materials and therefore demonstrate what they have learned. In some instances this might include taking a traditional individual written test but it could also include creating a video presentation in pairs or staging a play as part of a larger group.

The diagram below shows an illustrated version of the UDL guidelines with the engagement principle highlighted in green, the representation principle in purple and the action and expression principle in blue.

Diagram showing the three tenets of Universal Design for Learning - please see the website link below the diagram for further information

A full explanation of the diagram containing links to suggestions for each of the principles, is provided here:

If you would like to know more about inclusive practice, see this extract from a FutureLearn course designed by the University of New South Wales in Australia:

This image is purely for decoration but if you click on it it will take you to

NB: We are not endorsing this course.