As research, studies, and observations show, there is no “one fits all education.” Schools are filled with students who have learning disabilities, speak English as a second language, have mental health problems, etc., the point being, every student learns differently. So why are more people not accommodating the needs of all students?
This is the mission of UDL-IRN, to support the design of future-ready learning environments that are equitable, beneficial, and meaningful for all learners.
One of my favorite people in the entire world, my brother Alex, has struggled his entire life with his dyslexia and ADHD. He was diagnosed in early elementary school with it and it became evident very quickly that he did not learn like the other students. Alex needed accommodations to his learning because he was not part of the “one fits all education.”.
Luckily my mom had the time, patience, knowledge and resources to go to school and attain a 504 plan and an IEP. The thing about an IEP and 504 plan is that there is no sense of accountability towards the teachers who are supposed to be implementing the written contract. In the early years I watched as my mother had to constantly be my brothers advocate day after day to get his IEP implemented in the classroom, this duty was later shared by my brother.
Alex has constantly had to fight for his education because he does not learn like the “normal student.” It breaks my heart to know that there are students out there who have similar barriers like Alex’s who do not have the means or resources to fight.
That is what is so amazing about Universal Design for Learning, the environment is already built for all types of students and the accommodations they need. There is no fighting or advocating, but there is learning. There is no feeling like an outcast because you have barriers that make you abnormal in comparison to the norm.
There were so many nights my brother would go to bed crying because school was hard for him. The material was not hard, but the structure of the curriculum and homework was. Alex has always been one of the smartest in his class, and going to college on a scholarship for mechanical engineering and ROTC is proof of his journey, but I wish growing up he had a UDL classroom and curriculum. I wish he didn’t have to fight. I wish schools and teachers were always accommodating. I wish for him and all students that more schools, districts and classrooms would innovative and make UDL a priority.