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Universal Design


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How can I make the classroom accessible and inviting?

Creating an accessible and inclusive classroom environment is important for student accessibility, comfort, and learning. Accessibility in architectural spaces is usually identified with the important ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. Applied to creating learning communities, the underlying connection between Universal Design and disability accommodations is that both encourage accessibility to more diverse groups of people. When considering the classroom environment the two important areas for creating an inclusive classroom environment include 1) class climate and 2) physical environment of the classroom.

Class Climate:

Your actions, words, and written information should reflect diversity and inclusiveness in the classroom environment. This includes conveying high expectations both for you as instructor and for your students to be respectful and inclusive of all students in the class community. For example, consider how contentious content can lead to uncomfortable discussions where disrespect overshadows academic discourse, or the ways in which certain instructional delivery methods of complex content can leave some students behind. Explore ways in which learning community expectations can be built into your course planning and explored with your students starting on the first day.


The University of Oregon is working to create inclusive learning environments. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your participation, please notify me as soon as possible. You are also welcome to contact the Accessible Education Center in 164 Oregon Hall at (541) 346-1155 or If you are not a student with a documented disability through Disability Services, but you would like for me to know about class issues that will impact your ability to learn, I encourage you to come visit with me during my office hours so that we can strategize how you can get the most out of this course.

Open inquiry, freedom of expression, and respect for difference are fundamental to a comprehensive and dynamic education. The University Teaching and Learning Center is committed to upholding these ideals by encouraging the exploration, engagement, and expression of divergent perspectives and diverse identities.

Physical Environment of the Classroom:

Even though you do not always have the luxury of selecting a classroom for your course, there are steps that every faculty member can take to make the physical environment of the classroom more accessible to all students.