Designing for All: Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for Universal Design for Learning
Abstract: Diverse student populations are a critical factor for educators within the K-12 setting. As educators, we have a legal obligation to make courses accessible for learners with documented disabilities, but we have an ethical duty to do so for all learners. Unfortunately, higher education seems to be failing certain populations, in particular pre-service teachers. While there is an increasing range of academic diversity in higher education, many instructors continue to trust traditional strategies and course designs to meet the needs of all learners (Chandler et al., 2017). This issue has only been exacerbated by the sudden need to move traditionally face-to-face courses online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If we want to reach as many learners as possible, we need to be aware of the diverse abilities and cultures of learners and the technologies that can be used to overcome obstacles in the learning environment (Lewis & Sullivan, 2018). We propose the solution to addressing these shortcomings in accessibility and inclusion is to apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) when preparing pre-service teachers. Equipping pre-service teachers with the tools necessary to apply UDL principles within their future classrooms will help to ensure learning for all.