Initially UD was developed through architecture and product design, with the aim to:
“…design products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptations or specialised design.
Ron Mace, The Center for Universal Design (Accessed Jan 2017)
Educators and researchers took the main principles of UD and applied them to various educational settings, developing the principles of Universal Design of Instruction.
The Center for Universal Design in Education (Accessed Jan, 2017).
Burgstahler, Sheryl, E., and Rebecca Cory C., Eds. 2008. Universal design in higher education; from principles to practice. Cambridge MA: Harvard Education Press
The principles and approaches presented on this website are based on ongoing research and practice.
In my article Find your own pace – and move together, The Application of Universal Design of Instruction in Dance Degrees in Higher Education, I provide a more detailed presentation and discussion of the research.
Written in 2010, the article presents my approach up to that point. It challenged me to rethink my own teaching conventions and served as a blue print to develop further material and processes.
The collection of material has grown since then, as each new teaching environment and presentation provides opportunities to apply and develop these approaches further.
The application of a UD informed approach varies from class to class depending on the participants. In the context of the research, we exclusively used an UD approach, including an introduction session for the participants.
When I was teaching class regularly in the BA program at the University of Washington I would mix in UD based exercises into my otherwise conventional teaching of contemporary dance, even when there were no dancers with a disability present in the class. I believe all students benefit from this individualised teaching approach and need to be familiar with the process.
I see the UD informed approach as a tool box which a teacher is familiar with and uses flexibly for pedagogic, artistic and access reasons. As a teacher I need to introduce, guide and develop this process.
In principle the class develops from open to more specific parameters. It starts with exploration and moves via improvisation to various degrees of individually set material and relating this to partners and the group.
We move from the individual (Me) to relating our own material first to one partner (You), then to other partners and the group (Us). The dancers discover overlapping and contrasting material in the process.
Individualising is an approach that is widely used in regular school teaching. There is a large body of pedagogic research and experience available in terms of individualised teaching approaches.
Applying individualised teaching approaches in the class context moves away from disability specific approaches or working with ‘adapting’ movements for or by disabled dancers.
Working with individualised material in a dance class, teaches all the students how to make the material relevant to their movement range and learning goals.
Set up ground rules for working in the studio together, below a few examples: