Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities: the Promise of Universal Design for Learning

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Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities: The Promise of Universal Design for Learning

This report was written with support from the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC), a cooperative agreement between CAST and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Cooperative Agreement No. H324H990004. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred.

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Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities: The Promise of Universal Design for Learning

Written by Richard M. Jackson, Director of Practice and CAST’s Liaison to Boston College for the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

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Edited by Valerie Hendricks
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This report addresses the following questions:

* What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

* What are low-incidence disabilities?

* Why are schools and communities particularly challenged in serving students with low-incidence disabilities?

* What are the needs of students with low-incidence disabilities?

* What curricula and instructional practices are currently used with students with low-incidence disabilities?

* What planning models are in use for students with low-incidence disabilities?

* How can IEPs ensure greater access to the general curriculum for students with low-incidence disabilities?

* What approaches exist for enabling students with low-incidence disabilities to participate in state- and district-level assessment systems?

* How can the UDL framework increase access to the general curriculum for students with low-incidence disabilities?

Acknowledgements

When one completes a writing project of this size and effort, there are many to recognize and thank. Foremost is CAST’s Valerie Hendricks, whose editing skills remain unparalleled. Valerie’s critical review, suggested reorganizations, and detailed edits in the final stages of the writing proved enormously helpful, contributing greatly to the overall quality of the work. I am also indebted to Kelly Harper and Lisa White, OSEP-supported research assistants based at Boston College, for their careful and extensive library research and literature summaries. Additionally, I want to recognize and thank other Boston College research assistants who helped with earlier editing and reference checking. They include Xiaoxia Chen, Jennifer Hawthorne and Randall Lahann. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Chuck Hitchcock, NCAC’s project director at CAST, and David Rose, NCAC’s principal investigator at CAST, for their patience, encouragement, and commitment in seeing this project through to completion.

Table of Contents

Introductionvi
Overviewviii

I. What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?1
Origins of Universal Design1
Universal Design in Architecture2
Universal Design in Education4
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)5

II. What are low-incidence disabilities?9
Alternative Systems for Classification9
A Focus on Incidence9

III. Why are schools and communities particularly challenged in serving students with low-incidence disabilities?...................................................................................................................................12

Insufficient Numbers12
Finding the Least Restrictive Environment13

IV. What are the needs of students with low-incidence disabilities?15
Special Education is Not a Place15
Categories and Characteristics15
Addressing Intense and Complex Needs16
Clusters of Low-Incidence Disabilities17
Blind/Low Vision18...
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