On Tuesday, 21 February 2023, the class of Children and Adolescents with Special Needs conducted an International Guest Lecture with Prof. David Evans from Sydney School of Education and Social Work, the University of Sydney. The main topic of the lecture is about ‘Universal Design for Learning’ which highlights the notion that various objects can be used by many people including people with disabilities with the development of universal design. According to the Centre of Excellence in Universal Design, Universal Design is where an environment has the design and composition that can be accessed, acknowledged and utilized primarily by all people regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability. The term ‘universal’ is applied since it’s capable of meeting the needs of people and beneficial for everyone.
During the lecture, the students were divided into small groups and asked to identify and evaluate the physical environments that are considered to embrace universal design, or on the contrary, pose barriers to accessibility. After learning about universal design, the students discussed with Prof David Evans its application in educational context, i.e. Universal Design for Learning, that is how learning should be designed from the outset with the thinking of all learners to be able to access, participate and perform in the learning process.
The purpose of this activity and material is to give awareness of things that might hinder people with disabilities from getting the best experience in a learning environment. From the students, their vision of universal design in learning is mainly how to make learning optimized for any kind of people. After the lecture, the students gathered several takeaway points from the idea of universal design. Some of them realized that the facilities of our universities are not very accessible for people with disabilities. One of the students also said that we haven’t used a structured method in accordance with the material from the lecture to apply universal design in learning.