The UDL Educational Technology Guide 2019-2020: Technology for Special Education

John F. O'Sullivan


What is UDL Technology? 

I choose the term UDL technology because we need a new word to describe technology for special education students and other learners with challenges. The term assistive technology is too broad of a term that means to many things and provokes the wrong image. UDL technology is modern technology that is less intrusive, and for students with a wide spectrum of learning issues. The days of a clunky device that sticks out are over, and that is why we have a new term. The term includes modern technology that is used for academic and non-academic reasons. 

Definition: UDL Technology

Modern technology that is used to help individuals with disabilities and other challenges to function, succeed, perform tasks in various settings, especially academic settings. 

What is Universal Design for Learning? 

Universal Design for Learning is the idea that a diverse group of students can meet different standards through different means. What the students are learning is presented in many ways. This could mean, a picture, video, article, lecture, real-life examples, software, interactive website, other representation. With UDL, a student is given multiple means to express their ideas and take actions to meet classroom goals. It also should mean the implementation of technology. UDL is backed with brain research. It considers how we learn with various parts of our brain. Goals should be designed for all students learning. Each student can meet the same goal or standard with a different representation that shows they have learned the standard. Teachers should represent information in different ways. I would personally define UDL as regular education version of special education. The idea of reaching all students in the regular classroom is something truly special.

To truly understand UDL I recommend that you go to CAST’s website and read about UDL.
This video explains UDL in less than five minutes:

With the movement of special education students getting more and more of his or her instruction in the regular classroom, UDL is a way to help regular education teachers reach everyone. It also helps teachers find ways to reach many other populations that present various challenges. The technologies that I recommend are very UDL. Universal Design for Learning might be a way to reach special needs students in the regular classroom, but it is not special education. When students with special needs are successful, they get services in regular education. The goal for special needs students is for them to get services in regular education when possible. 

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