Deaf Music: Universal Design in the Classroom and Beyond

In 2017, the TC ASL Club joined the Deaf Music project and hosted an event focused on Universal Design in both education and public performance. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to education that creates opportunities for learning according to each individual student’s strengths and needs. Relying on a single generic curriculum inevitably creates unnecessary barriers for many students. Curricula designed in accordance with UDL principles enable students to learn without false barriers and to thrive in school.

UDL has three main principles:

  1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning). How is information presented? Is it equally accessible to students with disabilities? Is it equally accessible to students regardless of their particular learning style? In addition to equal access, multiple representations of the same information often help students better understand concepts and transfer their learning to new situations.
  2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning). How can students demonstrate their learning? How can teachers assess student learning in a way that measures true understanding, not just performance on a specific pre-determined task? It’s important for students to have options for expression that best enable them to learn, most accurately represent their learning, and most strongly empower them to showcase their learning.
  3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning). What makes students motivated to learn about a particular topic or subject? What conditions enable students to work best? Different students will find motivation in any number of places and will work best in different learning situations. All students should have the opportunity to feel motivated and supported.

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