Universal Design for Learning in Kentucky: A Promising Practice on State-level Systems Change

Date Updated

The increased use of technology in our schools brings innumerable benefits but also new challenges for teachers and students as they try to integrate technology in an accessible manner.

In an effort to meet the challenge of helping all students achieve, the Division of Exceptional Children Services of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) in partnership with the University of Louisville embarked upon a state-wide initiative. Based on principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), project staff developed a comprehensive plan which included procurement and distribution of accessible digital curriculum materials and creation of an infrastructure of software tools for student use. An online accessible version of the state assessment with full technical support was also created. Participants have found that implementing this state-wide initiative has benefited students by:

  • Teaching students to control and customize the learning environment to meet their own unique learning styles.
  • Allowing students with reading or writing disabilities to become more independent. With core content available in accessible digital formats paired with computerized reading and writing supports, students now have more tools to assist and manage their own learning needs.
  • Offering the benefits of individual empowerment. Using these tools and accessible content, students are able to engage curricula and assessment materials without worrying about decoding skills, print disabilities, or the accompanying feelings of self-consciousness.

This effort provides a promising practice in systematically implementing UDL throughout a state-wide K-12 educational system. For more information please visit Universal Design For Learning: A Statewide Improvement Model For Academic Success in the August 2005 volume of Information Technology and Disabilities.