Kami's Story

From It6740 Udl

We will take a look at the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) through the eyes of a student with psychiatric disabilities. Why? Two reasons: First, because the concept was originally developed to help learners with disabilities. Second, because the problems that those with disabilities pose help us be creative about our development of learning strategies and processing. If we help those with disabilities, we make learning better for everyone.

Kami, has psychiatric disabilities: bipolar and attention deficit disorders. She is beginning a new training session (if you are on the corporate track) or class (if you are on the education track). The textbook and handouts include a variety of introductory information, assignments, detailed instructions, and course expectations. The information comes fast, the assignments seem cryptic, the tasks are overwhelming. Kami becomes bewildered and frustrated and almost immediately falls behind.

  • The training session only lasts for three days (corporate).
  • 15 weeks of class looks impossible (education).

She either sits in the back and maintains a low profile while secretly scared to death, or quits. Unfortunately, Kami represents a large group of students for whom little is being done to improve educational access, retention, and completion in distance learning environments.

If Kami was in a university class campus, she would have supports including additional academic advising, taped textbooks, tutoring in reading, writing, and study strategies, extended time on tests, assistance with writing assignments and so on. However, in a university or corporate environment, Kami must disclose her disability to receive assistance. Her disabilities are neither understood nor accepted in society today. Kami needs to learn how to develop her own lifelong learning skills.

As Instructional Designers, how do we help Kami? How do we help others with different disabilities? Different abilities?


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