California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition
UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING
The California Down syndrome Advocacy Coalition (CDAC) recommends the state-wide implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an educational framework that requires curriculum, including goals, instructional materials, teaching methods, and assessments, to be designed to provide meaningful access by the widest range of learners. This can be accomplished by applying the following three UDL principles to the curriculum:
Provide multiple and flexible methods of presentation (to give students with diverse learning styles various ways of acquiring information and knowledge).
Provide multiple and flexible means of expression (to provide diverse students with alternatives for demonstrating their knowledge).
Provide multiple and flexible means of engagement (to tap into diverse learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn).
Title II of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires that State and local governments provide people with disabilities physical access to schools and classrooms. States and local governments have had almost two decades to comply with these requirements. Providing equal opportunity to physically accessible public schools is imperative in order to provide access to the curriculum. Both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act recognize that all learners, including those with disabilities, must have access to and make progress in the general education curriculum. UDL is an educational framework that provides physical access to the curriculum by ensuring that instructional materials are usable (e.g through the use of Braille and text readers) and provides cognitive access to the curriculum by building in the comprehension supports that allow knowledge to be acquired and progress to be made.
When UDL is fully embraced and implemented the curriculum will be designed to provide ALL students with equal opportunities to learn. It allows educators to choose from a menu of tools and strategies embedded in the curriculum. Using UDL principles in all classrooms makes curriculum and instruction accessible and engaging for all learners. Protected rights to access are assured; curriculum barriers are reduced; learning is supported; students gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning; and their learning is validly assessed. CDAC seeks to promote the infusion of UDL principles into the State educational strategic plan and into the curriculum frameworks of all school systems within the State of California.
CDAC seeks to improve the quality of life for all individuals with Down syndrome, regardless of age, by improving and expanding opportunities at the community and state level. CDAC believes that all opportunities which could benefit individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities must be realized.