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(U2) Workshop - Blending Universal Design, E-Learning and ICTs, in Higher Education

Presenters: Roberta Thomson (McGill) and Alice Havel

Abstract: E-learning holds the potential for greater access to higher education than ever before, especially if e-learning tools are developed and used in a way that is consistent with the principles of Universal Design (UD).

It is our premise that UD principles can be used to increase access to instruction for higher education learners with disabilities by focusing on how instructors teach using e-learning tools. At the core of this notion is the need to consider the combination of three key elements:

  1. The diversity of students in a course: their learning preferences, abilities, processing speeds, cultural backgrounds, prior knowledge, etc.
  2. The course components: delivery, content, evaluation, etc.
  3. The variety of E-learning tools, ICTs and learning management systems (LMSs), mobile devices, software and applications used by both instructors and students.

Audience: Faculty and tutors, Course and instructional designers, Policy administrators and Student service staff

Learning Objectives:

  • To review the basic principles of UDI and UDL in order to identify their similarities and differences.
  • To analyse those e-learning and information and communication technology (ICT) elements that facilitate accessibility.
  • To synthesize knowledge into a take-away list of seven key questions to ask when developing a course where blending UD and e-learning is expected to contribute to increased access and reduction of barriers.


Roberta Thomson is the project coordinator of the all UDL Faculty/Toolkit project. She also teaches at the post-secondary level in the college and university settings, on courses related to education and inclusion.

Until her retirement in 2014, Alice Havel was the coordinator of the Student AccessAbility Centre at Dawson College. As a research associate with the Adaptech Research Network she focuses on the development of inclusive teaching practices through Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and on the use and accessibility of information and communication technologies in postsecondary education.

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Updated December 16, 2015 by Student & Academic Services