Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design in Higher Learning  by Thomas J. Tobin and Kirsten Behling

This is the first book that I have read in 2019 and I’m glad I picked it to start the year. This book is a wonderful resource for those in Higher Ed looking to expand their universal design for learning (UDL) knowledge. The book starts with good legal examples that also include Canadian contexts which is wonderful to see as someone who works in a Canadian college and often reads books that only frame Americans with disabilities act (ADA) and not accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities act (AODA) for example.

The book then leads into real practical and tangible ways to implement UDL by focusing on a plus one philosophy for assignments and modalities for example to allow for two different paths of access which users can navigate singularly or in a combination that works for them. This means users can have text only content or captioned videos of content or concepts and they can use them in the context that is most useful in their lives. There is an emphasis on pinch points in the text which are parts of lessons where students may be more likely to ask questions or ask for alternate explanations as a point where UDL exploration can start. I loved hearing about the Faculty 4 concept that is promoted at Kennesaw State to encourage and inform faculty on how to create accessible documents and  approach material in an accessible manner.

There was a lot of focus on captioning of videos in this book which I felt suggested that was the default way to increase access which is not always the case. It could be because captions are easy to understand for those new to UDL but it made it seem as though that was the only thing that needed to happen to add access in sections, instead of speaking to other alternative formats equally like for example infographics or reinforcing UDL pedagogical practices in relation to classroom space use. However, the authors data-driven approaches are a good way to start a conversation with administrators when looking for UDL support in a time and resource scarce educational landscape.

Tobin and Behling provide really great resources to get you started- from agendas for meetings to simplify the process, to exercises at end of chapters that allow for reflection on how to put concepts into your own practice. They also provide another wonderful resource in the best practices for ensuring accessibility in course with online components checklist. The structure of the book itself also mimics UDL principles with a lot of reinforcement and the final chapter summarizes the main points first in 3 pages then in 1 page which was a nice way to end. 

I am not planning on writing such long reviews or assessments of all the books I read this year, but I felt this book needed to be highlighted and promoted as a must read for educators, policy makers, administrators, and those working on college campuses.


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