Universal Design in Higher Education: Ideology or Research Based teaching?


Inger Marie Lid


B3. Education about UD

Date and Time

2014-06-16, 17:00 - 17:20


MA 1
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Design Case

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Short oral presentation


In the Norwegian Action Plan (2009-2013) Norway Universally Designed by 2025, one measure is to implement Universal Design (UD) in the academic sector. In order to promote this, the government has established a National Driving-force provided by a small amount of funding to promote the sectors implementing of universal design. This far, the National Driving-force unit has been operative for 5 years and has been supporting projects in universities and university colleges.
Although building upon earlier measures of barrier-free and user-centered design, UD is a new strategy, emerging over the latest decades. The trajectory from a political and strategic concept towards a topic in higher education may have just started. There is an emerging recognition that to work with universal design and implement the strategy is a question of knowledge, skills and competence. In line with this, The UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) focuses in article 4 on the need for education and research on universal design. The CRPD highlights knowledge on what it implies that persons with disabilities have equal rights and should be able to participate in society as equal citizens.
From analyzing two projects that have received financial support from the Norwegian Action Plan, this paper will discuss UD as an interdisciplinary area of academic teaching. What characterizes the teaching and research, and how can students learn through interdisciplinary work? Are the structural conditions sufficiently? Can research-based teaching avoid that academics and students perceive UD in higher education as a top-down ideology enforced upon them?