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Universal Design for Learning [clear filter]
Monday, May 11


Keynote - Jess Mitchell
avatar for Jess Mitchell

Jess Mitchell

Senior Manager, Research + Design, Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
I am lately most fascinated with the evolving world of design, in particular ethics and design. I spend most of my time in inclusion, diversity, and equity. And am deeply committed to empowering people and helping to shift their perspective.

Monday May 11, 2020 9:00am - 10:15am
Harbourfront Ballrooms


Transforming Student Learning Skills Through Collaborative Practice​
How can disrupting our ways of working together enhance our ability to transform teaching practices in effective and sustainable ways? Our desire to respond effectively to the needs of learners with diverse cultural backgrounds and diverse learning needs leads us to renew our practices.  We observe that for our students to succeed, we must effectively support them in learning new disciplinary cultures (Wingate, 2018), as we use universal design principles to enhance student access to learning experiences (Boothe, Lohmann, Donnell, & Hall, 2018).  

This workshop engages participants in exploring a model developed by the Kwantlen Polytechnic School of Business, Learning Centres, and Teaching & Learning Commons where faculty are actively engaged in re-thinking teaching practices in ways that incorporate UDL while speaking the language of their discipline.


By the end of this session, participants will:
• identify learning skills “bottlenecks” that hinder academic success in particular disciplines (Middendorf & Shopkow, 2018)
• explore a model for enhancing student acquisition of core learning skills through assignment audits, skills audits, scaffolding assignments, and the strategic integration of learning modules;
• explore ways in which learning technology and the use of UDL can support the integration of key learning skills into courses; and
• consider the ways in which enhanced collaboration between teaching faculty and teaching-learning support professionals can enhance the practice of all.
Session Methods:
1. Discussion: Participants will first engage in interactive discussion, with option to participate verbally or through an e-discussion tool (e.g Poll Everywhere),
2. Case Study Sharing: Next, we will explore a model for partnership between faculty, the Learning Centre, Teaching & Learning Commons, and the tools that were designed to facilitate UDL implementation in a discipline-specific (School of Business) context. A case study will be shared that details the implementation of the model in a course and the outcome of this pilot.
3.        Engagement with Tools and Personal Application Participants can choose to engage with video, online tools, and written materials to experience the resources available.  Finally, participants will work in self-selected small groups to explore how similar approaches might be implemented through partnerships in their environment.

avatar for Lesley McCannell

Lesley McCannell

Professor, School of Business, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
avatar for Christina Page

Christina Page

Learning Strategist, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Monday May 11, 2020 10:45am - 12:05pm
Salon F


Shifting Towards a UDL Mindset
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has the potential to disrupt and transform higher education, increasing access and engagement for many learners. But it can sometimes be hard to know how to start the UDL conversation with colleagues and leaders. While you might be tempted to launch into your UDL elevator pitch or whip out a dog-eared graphic of the UDL principles, this TED Talk style session introduces six ways to start the conversation by helping shift thinking towards a UDL mindset in your everyday conversations. These shifts help us listen better, make better use of the conversations, and build better relationships in UDL learning and implementation.  In this session, we will describe each of the six shifts, give examples, and share tools for capitalizing on opportunities to shift towards a UDL mindset in everyday conversations. If you are starting - or would like to start - UDL conversations on your campus, this session will give you some new ideas to try. 

avatar for Ruth Fraser

Ruth Fraser

Associate Director Student Affairs and Services, Douglas College
Ruth Fraser is a Student Services administrator, currently working at Douglas College in Vancouver, BC. The focus of her work is to advance accessibility in higher education by changing how we think about and serve students with disabilities. She has 15 years experience in higher... Read More →

Monday May 11, 2020 1:15pm - 1:45pm
Ballroom 3


Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Post-Secondary
The Supporting Students with Disabilities in BC Postsecondary course invites faculty and staff to closely examine how the learning environment can create barriers for students with disabilities and consider applying easy-to-use strategies that can transform our campuses so they are inclusive for all students, including those with disabilities.
The objective of this session is to showcase the SSWD course and resource site and explain how the open resource can be utilized by instructors and staff at post-secondary schools throughout BC to strengthen their ability to apply intentional, inclusive practices to support students with disabilities in their learning and paths to success.
Example learning outcomes SSWD Course:
· Define what is meant by having a disability and become familiar with a wide range of disabilities and how they impact learning
· Identify the concepts of duty to accommodate and understand the process of reasonable accommodation
· Apply strategies and tools from Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create an inclusive learning environment to accommodate your students
· Develop personal goals, address institution-wide responsibilities and identify next steps for creating inclusive campuses
· Recognize the range of learners and learning styles present in their classrooms linked to different types of disabilities, and consider this in relation to teaching, learning, and evaluation practices
· Apply tools to assess the learning environment given the diversity of learners
· Consider options for flexible teaching and evaluation methods that accommodate a variety of learning needs (ie. Universal Design for Learning)
·  Discuss how the website can be used by faculty and staff at post-secondary schools throughout BC


Mary Kallberg

Senior Manager, Student Learning Support and Disability Resources

Monday May 11, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Ballroom 1
Tuesday, May 12


Mental Health and Wellness Initiative at the University of Victoria
In my session, I will share with participants an exciting new mental-health and wellness initiative that I launched at the University of Victoria in October 2019. UVic Bounce (www.uvic.ca/bounce) is an initiative that provides critical early-stage resources to support student mental health and to help students thrive. Through videos in which alumni and faculty speak openly about their successes and failures during their own university experiences, students are able to reframe their struggles and challenges as a normal and important part of their university experience. By normalizing and de-stigmatizing conversations about the difficulties that students face and by disrupting the discourse of success that tends to shame students and keep them isolated, UVic Bounce hopes to make it easier for students to share their struggles and to seek the support that they need. Our stories connect us and can transform our university communities. Faculty member's participation in this initiative is particularly disruptive and transformative; by sharing personal challenges from their own university days through this intimate video series, faculty members disrupt narratives of shame and help students to understand that the difficulties they face are not meant to be faced alone and that they are a part of compassionate community who supports them.

At the 2018 BC Campus "Festival of Learning," I presented a session ("Learning to Bounce: Teaching Resilience in the Undergraduate Classroom") in which I shared the work that I had been doing since 2014 to build UVic Bounce. Now that this initiative has launched, I would value the opportunity to share this initiative more widely with those working in higher education in BC so that they might be able to build similar initiatives on their own campuses. Campuses must transform to meet the needs of students who are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and depression related to everything from moving away from home, to academic pressures, to social expectations. Without intervention, the weight can be overwhelming and can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions that can negatively affect academic performance.

Universities have the opportunity to intervene at an early stage to help prevent crisis-level mental health conditions by changing the way we understand and talk to students about the struggles they face. If we create a community of support that includes _all_ members of the university community, we can help students before they become overwhelmed, and build positive coping skills that will change the course of their academic journey.


Rebecca Gagan

Rebecca Gagan is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English at The University of Victoria.

Tuesday May 12, 2020 11:35am - 12:05pm
Ballroom 2


Supporting Students with Disabilities (SWD) Transitioning from Post-Secondary to Careers
Working towards supporting students with disabilities (SWD) in transitioning from an post-secondary academic setting to a career/experiential learning setting. This session is relevant to career advisors, co-op coordinators, employers, students, faculty and anyone interested in equity, diversity and inclusion work.

As a Registered Social Worker, MSW student and Accessibility Experiential Learning Coordinator at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), I approach my work using anti-oppressive, critical disability and critical discourse theory. Pedagogically speaking, these approaches align well with transformative social justice work in that: Anti-oppressive practice theory aims to reduce power differentials, empower, and give voice to people living on the social, cultural and political margins; critical disability theory challenges the social construction of disability by deconstructing how disability is perceived, experienced and defined by Western society; and critical discourse theory seeks to contentiously unpack common language used related to disability.

Disruption and Transformation Work at TRU
The Thompson Rivers University Career and Experiential Learning Department (CEL) is working diligently on accessibility initiatives to support our diverse student population. From an equity, diversity and inclusion perspective we recognize that disability is defined and experienced in different ways by different groups of people. Therefore, we are working towards inclusive service provision that acknowledges that other marginalized identities may intersect with disability. In essence, this work is being done in an effort to decolonize the academy’s approach to equity, diversity and inclusion priorities. We have approached this initiative through a process of research, engagement, education and resource development.

After several informal conversations with SWD, career practitioners, community employers and TRU faculty, common themes emerged in the following areas:

• Knowledge about accessibility and accommodations
• Attitudes about disability
• Understanding the legal duty to accommodate

Education and practical resource tools were developed based on the expressed needs of the groups interviewed. From a student-centred perspective, our priority is to create safer spaces, where we can, to cultivate a positive and supported student experience. Therefore, holistically speaking, we intend to provide education and resources to all parties involved in making this possible including community employers, faculty and CEL practitioners.

Please note, common themes above were identified in the social, environmental and political context that informs the culture of TRU and the surrounding communities.


Jennifer Mei

Accessibility Services Advisor, Thompson Rivers Universtiy

Tuesday May 12, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Ballroom 3
Wednesday, May 13


Accessibility Legislation Impacts on Education
British Columbia is embarking on the process of developing provincial accessibility legislation. While we cannot predict what the future holds, it is possible to start preparing for the inevitable changes that will need to be made to ensure accessibility in higher education. This discussion will focus on examining the structure of accessibility legislation currently in place in other jurisdictions, including Ontario and the US, and the impact these legislative regimes have had on education systems.

Participants will gain an understanding of the legislative timelines, components, and implementation in other jurisdictions with an analysis of the gaps in existing legislative environments. We will look at what lessons BC can take from these other jurisdictions, and what we can learn from their successes and challenges. This session will also provide insights into accessibility issues currently impacting students pursuing higher education in BC, and provide practices participants can begin to implement right now to address the areas most likely to be impacted first by changes to the legal accessibility landscape.


Corrie Playford

Accessibility Librarian, CAPER-BC

Wednesday May 13, 2020 10:45am - 11:15am
Ballroom 2


Bringing Everyone into Our Circle: UDL + Indigenous Methods = Community
In September 2019, we embarked on a 1-year, specially-funded, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) project at Camosun College. Our project team was comprised of two faculty from the college’s Learning Services department and two students. The primary goal of this project was to help increase the application of UDL practices & accessibility standards across the college community – with a particular focus on all Student Services (e.g. Registration, Admissions, Libraries, Financial Aid, Co-op Services, etc.).

Under the medical-model of accommodation that is practiced by most post-secondary education institutions, academic accommodations are only available to students with a registered disability and the accommodations they receive only apply to the teaching & learning environment; accommodations do not apply when students with a disability are trying to access student services. Furthermore, no accommodations are available to students who don’t qualify for the medical-model of accommodations (e.g. International students, etc.).

Our project goals were essentially two-fold:
1. Through stories shared with us by our student community, help members of our community to “know what they don’t know” about accessibility challenges and barriers for students at the college, and
2. Develop a set of CC-BY licensed and UDL-based learning tools, including a “rubric”-type tool with integrated references to the students’ stories, that any area of the college could refer to when seeking practical and “universal” solutions to the accessibility challenges our students encounter.

Our project team employed the Indigenous research method of circle-based discussions with participating students from across the college. We also provided an online survey-type format for students to contribute their stories if they preferred that to meeting in a circle.

Our intention was that by the end of the academic year, we would have the first-edition of our tools ready to pilot with a couple of units in the Learning Services area of the college.

avatar for Sue Doner

Sue Doner

Faculty, Instructional Designer, Camosun College
Instructional Designer: especially interested in Universal Design for Learning; Accessibility in online learning

Wednesday May 13, 2020 11:35am - 12:05pm
Ballroom 2