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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
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Scoping Document on UDL for FET Now Available Online

SOLAS, ETBI and AHEAD are pleased to make available online A Conceptual Framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the Irish Further Education and Training Sector: ‘Where Inclusion is Everyone’s Business’.

As a society we are in unchartered territory as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Not for generations has Ireland and the globe been faced with a pandemic like this. SOLAS under the agency of the Department of Education and Skills are currently working towards Ireland’s National Action Plan in response to COVID-19 [Coronavirus] as published by Government in recent days.

Whilst this conceptual framework was not developed to address the challenges specifically of COVID-19, it does highlight the concept of Universal Design for Learning and this approach can be applied to all learning settings, whether face to face or online. Therefore, we hope this conceptual framework will assist FET in some small way at this very challenging time.

The background context to this conceptual framework is that in order to fully promote inclusive FET SOLAS, in consultation with ETBI, commissioned AHEAD to conduct research and develop guidelines on inclusive learning environments using a Universal Design for Learning approach. This work has involved broad consultation with FET practitioners and decision makers and will benefit from the valuable oversight and guidance of the UDL for FET National Advisory Committee, which brings together a wide range of relevant expertise.

This background scoping document represents the outcomes from the first phase of this work. By building on its own knowledge of this field, an international literature review, and consultation with members of the Advisory Committee, AHEAD has set out the background to this project, explaining universal design as a concept, tracing the development of universal design for learning, discussing theoretical approaches and highlighting key theoretical concepts which need to be considered for the development of UDL for FET guidelines and the successful implementation of UDL approaches in further education and training.

Key concepts identified include the application of the CAST model of Universal Design for Learning and the need to recognise the diversity and experience of FET practitioners and their need for structured opportunities to share their understanding and practice of UDL.

The document is intended as a starting point to inform the key deliverable of this work, which is the development by AHEAD of practical guidelines for practitioners on understanding and implementing universal design for learning approaches in FET teaching and learning environments.

The guidelines, which are currently in development and due for release later this year, will also be informed by the broad consultation with stakeholders and analysis within the FET system already undertaken by AHEAD to fully understand the needs of FET practitioners in supporting them to implement UDL approaches and by further consultation with the UDL for FET National Advisory Committee.

The guidelines will build on existing good inclusion practices already in place, aiming to develop ingrained systems and learning networks across the FET system which will ultimately benefit all FET learners and potential learners.

Download: A Conceptual Framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the Irish Further Education and Training Sector: ‘Where Inclusion is Everyone’s Business’ >>

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