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Universal Design for Faculty and Students with Disabilities

Incorporating Universal Design to Reach All Students

Universal Design enhances the accessibility of courses for all students by creating and utilizing products or materials that can be used by everyone, regardless of their age, ability or status in life. Universal Design in the classroom embraces three basic principles.

  • Providing multiple means of representation, the “what”
  • Providing multiple means of action the “how”
  • Providing multiple means of engagement, the “why”

Universal Design

To follow are suggestions for incorporating Universal Learning Design in your classroom. By making the classroom more accessible for students with disabilities, access and engaged learning is achieved for all students.


Include a syllabus statement: Include a statement such as, “If you are a student with disability and need accommodations, you are welcome to meet with me to discuss arrangements for the accommodations. University of North Georgia is committed to equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Student who require accommodations and services must register with Student Disability Services (SDS) and submit supporting documentation.”


Before the course begins, be clear about expectations. Once accommodations are provided, expect students with disabilities to perform at a level commensurate with their peers. Students with disabilities are subject to the same code of conduct requirements and consequences as all UNG students. However, as issues related to disability and/or medical treatment can sometimes explain a change in behavior, feel free to consult with SDS. Please also be aware that accommodations are a legal right, and cannot be withheld as a consequence of behavior.

Communication effectively with teaching assistants (and anyone who may teach your class in your absence) about student accommodations that may be used in the classroom. For example, a student may have the Classroom Allowances accommodation to leave as needed during lecture, which is often for a medical condition. This could cause embarrassment if the professor knowingly confronts the student. Please note that it is not necessary to identify the student who may use the accommodation in your absence.

Flexible Curriculum

Choose textbooks and other curriculum materials that address the need of students with diverse abilities, interests, learning styles, preferences, and other characteristics. Use materials that are well organized, emphasize important point, provide references for gaining background knowledge, and have chapter outlines, study questions, and practice exercises.

Put learning in context

Incorporate multiple examples and perspectives to make specific concepts relevant to individuals with diverse characteristics such as age, ability, gender, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, and interests.

Provide cognitive supports

  • Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered during the class. At the conclusion, briefly summarize key points.
  • Present new or technical vocabulary in advance, and use terms in context to convey greater meaning. Give examples and non-examples.
  • Provide study questions in advance for exams. Choose ones that illustrate the format, as well as the content, of the test. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.

Use multiple modes to deliver content

Deliver instructions clearly and multiple ways, such as both orally and in written form. Offer multiple types of learning opportunities, such as collaborative learning, small group discussion, hands-on activities, online assignments, and fieldwork.

Accessible Course Content

Instructors are reminded to insure that all course content is accessible for every student. For information on locating, the purchasing of captioned media or having captions added to videos or internet clips, please review the 10 Tips for Creating Accessible Course Content in the Faculty Resource section of the SDS website.

It is important to select textbooks, reading assignments and audiovisuals well in advance for students who use alternate formats. SDS obtains classroom materials in digital, Braille and large print formats, but this takes time.

Resources are available to caption videos, but advance notice must be provided. All new purchases of classroom media must be accessible.

Whenever possible, plan early to allow all students the opportunity for internships, study abroad experiences, and other out-of-classroom opportunities. Consult with SDS as early as possible so that additional accommodation needs can be considered and addressed.

On-Line Course Content

On-line course content must also be accessible. Access is also a key issue for the increasing number of traditional classes that have at least some course content online. Contact Distance Education and Technology Integration for questions pertaining to online instruction.

UNG follows Section 508 Standards and WCAG 2.0 for web accessibility. If you require the content on this web page in another format, please contact the ADA Coordinator.

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