Universal Design Symposium

“Universal Design in Post-Secondary Teaching: Reality or Utopia?” A Symposium for Educators hosted by the University of New Brunswick on November 9-10, 2014, provided an opportunity for 100 plus post-secondary faculty and staff from across the country to learn about universal design for learning and its application at the post-secondary level.  The Symposium was funded by the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education and Training and was developed in collaboration with Mount Allison University, St. Thomas University, Universite de Moncton, NBCC, and CCNB.

This web site is a repository for the symposium presentation slides and the sessions that were captured on video. These resources are available to all who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and understanding of UDL.

Delegates at the Universal Design Symposium November 9 - 10, 2014The participants at the UD Symposium were engaged and enthusiastic throughout the two days as they attended the variety of sessions that were offered. Here’s a sampling of some of the presentations: Frederic Fovet, Director, McGill’s My Access (Office for Disabilities Services) told about his efforts to radically alter the way disability services are provided using the principles of universal design. Three faculty members from Dawson College shared what they had learned from implementing UDL in French Second Language classes at Dawson College. Keshia Godin, 4th year Psychology student from Mount Allison University presented options for coursework submissions and alternatives to academic papers.  Roberta Thomson, Project Co-ordinator, described the Collaborative College/University UDL Faculty/Toolkit Project that is currently underway at five Montreal post-secondary English institutions.  Stephanie Tremblay shared the findings of the work she is doing as Project Manager of the 2013-15 inter-level UDL projects being carried out in Province of Quebec Francophone Colleges and Universities.  

The legal context of UDL was illuminated by Barbara Roberts.  Several sessions looked at ways of promoting UDL on post-secondary campuses.  Jason Geary, Teaching Consultant and Ph.D student in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University shared how his institution has been using a blended learning approach to advance UDL on his campus.  Universally designed assessments were highlighted by Roxanne Reeves and Krista Wilkins, two instructors from the University of New Brunswick.  Susan Wurtele, award winning teacher from Trent University told us about her journey with UDL, sharing her experiences using universal design strategies in her classes.  Sam Johnston, Research Scientist with the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST), gave a keynote presentation on learner variability and a concurrent session on how to address variability in the blended classroom.  

Dr. Johnston sent the following lovely thank you note to the organizing committee after the symposium. She captures the excitement generated at the symposium and reminds us of what it takes for us to implement UDL.

“I just wanted to write and say thank you for inviting me to the symposium on UDL.  It was very exciting to see the great work being done by Canadian institutions and the thoughtful questions and ideas people had about UDL, at all levels of familiarity with it.  I have some boasting to do now about how Canadians are in many ways ahead of the curve.  I also appreciated the very warm Maritime welcome and seeing in action the value that our country places on diversity.  From the blessing of the event by the UNB elder, to the delivery of the presentations in two languages, everywhere there was evidence of how much differences are supported and considered essential to our learning. I do think that is the most important ingredient for implementation of UDL.”  

The UD Symposium was a great success.  It’s hoped that those who participated will continue to advance their universal design knowledge and skills by accessing and sharing the resources found on this web site.