The Certificate will create a focus for students’ scholarly work in developing environments that maximize the engagement of all community members, including people with disabilities. Universal design creates environments and resources that are useable by people across the lifespan. Universal design utilizes a broad set of strategies that promote inclusion and participation of all, particularly people with disabilities, within a diverse world. Universal design grew from the independent living movement, and legislation including the Architectural Barriers Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Higher Education Opportunities Act furthered the reach of Universal Design through definition of Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, that provides flexibility in education in information presentation, student engagement and demonstration of knowledge.
The Certificate will provide academic recognition for participating in 12 hours of course work. This Certificate shows that the student has attained competency in universal design. Utilizing universal design ensures that the needs of the widest range of possible users are considered at the outset. The principles of universal design are applicable across environments and to programs and learning across the lifespan. Students in this Certificate will: 1) demonstrate mastery of basic principles of universal design and accessibility (includes knowledge of accessibility mapping, methods of implementing universal design in the environment, and ways of relating various designs as universal design); and 2) employ the basic principles of universal design and accessibility techniques, including identification of barriers to accessibility, possible solutions and the long-term benefit of solutions. Students will be able to analyze the use of universal design in eliminating barriers in environments.
Universal design implications impact any disciplines that interact with people across the lifespan and the communities in which they live. The Certificate is applicable to undergraduates across colleges. This Certificate utilizes new courses from the Human Development Institute (HDI) along with an elective that may come from within the student’s own academic unit. As such, the Certificate will emphasize and make meaningful elements from within the students’ own major. The content has been successful in Discovery Seminar Program (DSP) courses which are no longer available at UK. The courses comprising the Certificate offer a unique cross-disciplinary opportunity for students. By not affiliating with an existing degree program, the cross-section of students will effectively shape the direction of the Certificate with each incoming cohort.
A primary concern to students completing their course of study and entering the workforce is access to the programs, products, and environments in which we interact. Increasingly, students are seeking experiential opportunities to have an impact in their campus community and to work with diverse populations. It is vital for students to learn the value of multiple perspectives in order to approach new endeavors with critical thoughtfulness. We see this at the Human Development Institute through our Graduate Certificate in Developmental Disabilities and in ongoing student interest in projects around creating a more inclusive campus. Students from across colleges come together, informally or through course projects, to participate in accessibility mapping of campus and develop a greater understanding of universal design and the importance of issues around access for all. The courses within the Certificate for Universal Design will enable students to further build upon the UK Core competencies and utilize a broad set of universal design strategies that will prepare them for productive careers and meaningful participation in their communities with an enriched understanding of diversity. Students will be able to link their own course of study to their certificate participation. For example, a communications student may take a practicum in captioning, while a geography student’s practicum could focus on conducting surveys of universal design elements used in small businesses on a particular Lexington street. Students will have the opportunity to work in group projects that result in scholarly papers, presentations and posters. These collaborations will be interdisciplinary and represent a variety of departments. The ability to have multiple semesters to work through complex issues is a strength of the certificate format, as opposed to a single course. Students will be engaged through the Certificates experiential activities and will ultimately have an enhanced understanding of the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of the communities in which they live and work.
Students currently enrolled as undergraduates or post-baccalaureates may apply to participate in the Certificate. Students must be in good academic standing with the University. Students must be enrolled in or have completed HDI 350 to apply. The Faculty of Record will review applications and consider GPA, major, and student essay.