DEI Corner: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Diverse learning

It’s All About Equal Access

Authored by: Carol Martsolf, PE, PMP, CPTD, LEED AP - VP, Chief Learning Officer at Urban Engineers

We all know about ADA and the need to incorporate that in our transportation designs.  It’s the law.  Have you worked on projects with curb cut ramps? Have you noticed that having curb cut ramps on sidewalks not only help those who use wheelchairs but it also helps so many other people: grocery store shoppers using carts full of groceries, or business people using rolling suitcases, or people roller-blading?  That’s what Universal Design for Learning is for Education and Learning, even in the corporate world (it’s not just for teachers!)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a way to approach learning so all participants can succeed, with development of learning events that focus on flexibility and are appropriate for varied and diverse participants (with or without disabilities).  Essentially, it reduces the barriers to learning and creates equal access.

UDL increases flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways employees respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways employees are engaged.

So what does this look like in practice? It’s something we all can do when we design corporate learning.

  1. Always provide information in multiple formats. This could mean offering verbal, recorded, visual, and written versions of info, and having materials available in print and digital formats.
  2. Have participants show what they learned in different ways.  For example, a presentation or audio format, instead of only in written formats.
  3. Choose fonts and colors wisely in presentations - have vast contrast between letters and the background (white letters on a dark background for good visual contrast)
  4. Choose content that is appropriate for, and represents, differences in racial, social, ethnic, and gender groups

If you apply UDL concepts, everyone can be a successful learner.

If you have any questions about how to apply UDL in your corporate learning, please reach out to me at ccmartsolf@urbanengineers.com.