How can universal design, disability, and accessibility topics be integrated into the engineering curriculum?

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Following are examples of strategies for integrating universal design, accessibility, and disability topics into the engineering curriculum, facilities, and programs.

  • Include universal design in introductory classes and capstone projects so that all engineering students learn to consider access to a broad audience in their engineering designs.
  • Work the Americans with Disabilities Act and universal design into engineering policy classes.
  • Raise awareness about universal design by recruiting students with disabilities into engineering courses.
  • Include a panel of students with disabilities so that engineering students can put a face to universal design and accessibility. Often panelists can be recruited through the campus disability services office.
  • Discuss different learning styles and abilities in engineering classes.
  • Have students go out on campus or into the community to interview people with a wide range of characteristics (including disabilities) to find out how a particular product or environment meets their needs and share with the class what they find.
  • Integrate universal design of instruction techniques into how you teach your class. Use multiple methods for students to gain knowledge and skills and to assess what they have learned.
  • Make sure engineering labs and makerspaces are accessible to students with a wide variety of characteristics, including disabilities. Continue to improve them with feedback from students with a wide variety of disabilities.
  • Use web resources to educate faculty on how to improve access to all aspects of an engineering program (e.g. labs, instruction, projects).
  • Have students do a research project based around how engineering design or technology affects people with disabilities.
  • Have multiple images of people with disabilities pursuing computing fields, such as those in class, publications, and posters around campus.
  • Require accessibility training for all educators and administrators.
  • Require that universal design, accessibility, and/or disability topics be included in every engineering class, just as part of the standard design process like any other engineering considerations such as cost-effectiveness of a design.
  • Build in funding for continuous improvements in making labs, classrooms, and other engineering facilities accessible.
  • Encourage other faculty and administrators across campus to embrace the inclusive design of all aspects of campus life.

For more information about integrating universal design, accessibility, and disability related topics into the engineering curriculum consult, Building Capacity to Increase the Participation of People with Disabilities in Engineering, Universal Design in the Curriculum, and/or view the videos Including Universal Design in the Engineering CurriculumBroadening Participation in Engineering to Include People with Disabilities, and Disability and Accessibility in Engineering: What Can Educators Do? You may also wish to view the video Quality Education Is Accessible, in which students with a variety of disabilities share strategies for making instruction more accessible to them.