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Applying Universal Design to Improve Reference


Presented at the Association of College & Research Libraries New England Chapter ... Worcester, MA. May 15, 2009 ... How do you apply UD principles in your ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Applying Universal Design to Improve Reference

Applying Universal Design to Improve Reference
Instruction Services
  • Ted Chodock Elizabeth Dolinger
  • Research Services Librarians
  • Landmark College Putney, VT
  • Presented at the Association of College
    Research Libraries New England Chapter Spring
    2009 Conference Are You Being Served? Customer
    Satisfaction Library Service
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Worcester, MA
  • May 15, 2009

Applying Universal Design to Improve Reference
Instruction Services
  • Our Customers?
  • Universal Design (UD)
  • Our experiences applying UD at Landmark
  • Reference Services
  • Information Literacy Instruction
  • How do you apply UD principles in your Library?

Who are our customers?
  • Non-traditional students
  • Between 1995 - 2006 enrollment of people age 25
    or older rose by 13
  • 2006 - 2017 National Center for Education
    Statistics projects a 19 rise in enrollments of
    people 25 and over
  • 1.06 of undergraduate students age 30 or older
    reported some type of disability

See Snyder, NCES,(2008) (2009).
Who are our customers?
  • ESL students
  • 2003 2004 12.3 of undergraduates reported
    English was NOT the primary language spoken at
  • 57.9 of Asian undergraduates reported English
    was NOT the primary language spoken at home
    compared to 42.8 of Hispanic/Latino students.
  • Most popular majors for students who reported
    that English was NOT the primary language spoken
    at home
  • 17.2 math
  • 17.1 engineering

See U.S. Dept. of Education, 2003-04, DAS-T
computation 4/16/2009.
Who are our customers? Students with Learning
  • 1999-2000
  • 9.3 of undergraduates reported some type of
  • 2003-2004
  • 11.3 of undergraduates reported some type of

See Horn, (2002) Table 5 Fig 7 (2006) Table
What is a Learning Disability?
  • The Learning Disabilities Association of America
    (LDA) defines a learning disability as
  • a neurological condition that interferes with a
    persons ability to store, process, or produce

See Learning Disabilities Association of
America, Defining Learning Disabilities
What is a Learning Disability ? Students
  • ...a learning disibility is an opportunity for
    someone to be more creative, and someone that
    understands information in a different way, just
    goes in a different direction to get there but
    reaches the same destination.

Landmark College student, 2009. Spelling or
grammar errors maintained.
  • ...a learning disability is not having a
    disability but a difference. It is a difference
    in the way my brain takes in, processes, and
    spits out information. There is a stereotype
    that goes along with disabilities that some
    people assume that we are stupid or cant do
    anything, but usually people with learning
    disabilities are smart they just dont show it in
    the conventional ways.

Landmark College student, 2009. Spelling or
grammar errors maintained.
What is a Learning Disability?
  • A disorder that affects peoples ability to
    either interpret what they see and hear or to
    link information from different parts of the

See Matthews (2003) p 5.
  • is characterized by problems in coping with
    written symbols, despite normal intelligences.
  • common characteristics are difficulty with
    phonological processing and/or rapid
    visual-verbal responding.

See Turkington, Harris American Bookworks
(2006) Dyslexia p 81-83. See Matthews (2003)
p 151.
Students with Dyslexia
  • Difficulty in handwriting spelling
  • Trouble with rapid visual-verbal responding
  • Find concept maps helpful
  • Note-taking is problematic
  • Slower than average reading and reading

See Sterling, Farmer, Riddick (2002) table 7.1
p 119. See Learning Disabilities Association of
America, Dyslexia. See Matthews (2003) p151.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)
  • Is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or
    hyper-activity-impulsivity that is more
    frequently displayed and more severe than is
    typically observed in individuals at a comparable
    level of development.

See American Psychiatric Association(2000) p 85.

Behaviors of students with AD/HD
  • Disinterested
  • Disorganized
  • Procrastination
  • Misjudging available time
  • Impulsivity

See Conners (2006) p 8-15.
Behaviors of students with AD/HD
  • Executive Function Dysfunction
  • Working memory problem solving processes
  • Control of emotions impulses
  • Internalized speech
  • Reconstitution

See Turkington Harris (2006) Executive
Functions p 95-96.
Library Anxiety
  • Library anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling
    or emotional disposition, experienced in a
    library setting, which has cognitive, affective,
    physiological, and behavioral ramifications.

See Jiao, Onwuegbuzie Lichtenstein (1996) p
Characteristics of Library Anxiety
  • Rumination
  • Tension
  • Fear
  • Feelings of uncertainty and helplessness
  • Negative self-defeating thoughts
  • Mental disorganization

See Jiao, Onwuegbuzie Lichtenstein (1996) p
Who experiences Library Anxiety?
  • 75-85 of students described their initial
    response to using the library in terms of fear or
    anxiety, a sense of feeling lost
  • The majority of users may experience library
    anxiety at certain stages of their library use or
    potential use.

See Mellon (1988) p 138. See Onwuegbuzie Jiao
(2004) p 50.
At Higher Risk for Library Anxiety
  • Lowest reading comprehension and reading
  • Procrastinators
  • Visual learners
  • Non-native English speakers
  • See Jiao Onwuegbuzie (2003) p 165, 166.
  • See Onwuegbuzie Jiao (2000) p 49.
  • See Jiao, Onwuegbuzie Lichtenstein (1996) p

  • How many students are we willing to accept that
    we wont reach?
  • In traditional postsecondary education… the
    capacity of enrolled students to master the
    content and achieve the outcomes is essentially
    assumed, often within the range defined by a bell
    curve. A certain amount of failure and sub-par
    performance is expected and even required to
    validate other successes.

See Gander Shmulsky (2008).
Universal Design (UD)
  • The design of products and environments to be
    usable by all people, to the greatest extent
    possible, without the need for adaptation or
    specialized design.

Doylesaylor. (2007, September 17). Afternoon sun
raking curb cut. In Flickr Photograph.
Retrieved June 4, 2008, from http//
See Connell, et al. (1997, April 1).
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
  • The burden of adaptation should be first placed
    on the curriculum, not the learner. Because most
    curricula are unable to adapt to individual
    differences, we have come to recognize that our
    curricula, rather than our students, are

See Center for Applied Special Technology
(2008). Universal design for learning guidelines
version 1.0 (p. 4).
UDL Principles
  • 1) Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the
    "what" of learning).
  • 2) Provide Multiple Means of Expression (the
    "how" of learning).
  • 3) Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the
    "why" of learning).

See Center for Applied Special Technology
(2008). Universal design for learning guidelines
version 1.0 (pp.3-4).
Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
  • With an absence of legal mandates relating to
    planning individualized instruction for students
    with disabilities at the postsecondary level,
    change will be fueled by thoughtful approaches
    that are responsive to the culture of faculty and
    features of their work that are distinctly
    different from those of their colleagues in
    elementary and secondary settings.

See McGuire Scott (2007) p 126.
Universal Design Libraries
  • ALA Library Services for People with
  • Disabilities Policy
  • Libraries should use strategies based upon
    the principles of universal design to ensure that
    library policy, resources and services meet the
    needs of all people.

See American Library Association (ALA),
Association of Specialized and Cooperative
Library Agencies (ASCLA).
Universal Design Libraries
  • Architecture
  • Entrance ramps rather than steps
  • Wide stacks to accommodate wheel chairs
  • Low service desks
  • Computer tables that allow for height changes
  • Elevator controls available from a seated
  • Signage

Universal Design Libraries
  • Websites, Computers Technology
  • Screen reader friendly
  • Assistive technologies available
  • Library staff trained in using assistive
  • Usability testing

UDI the ACRL Standards
  • ACRL Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction
    Librarians Coordinators
  • 6.6 Designs instruction to best meet the common
    learning characteristics of learners, including
    prior knowledge and experience, motivation to
    learn, cognitive abilities, and circumstances
    under which they will be learning.
  • 6.7 Integrates appropriate technology into
    instruction to support experiential and
    collaborative learning as well as to improve
    student receptiveness, comprehension, and
    retention of information.

See ACRL Standards for Proficiencies for
Instruction Librarians and Coordinators
UDI the ACRL Standards
  • 9.2 Presents instructional content in diverse
    ways (written, oral, visual, online, or using
    presentation software) and selects appropriate
    delivery methods according to class needs.
  • 12.2 Modifies teaching methods and delivery to
    address different learning styles, language
    abilities, developmental skills, age groups, and
    the diverse needs of student learners.

See ACRL Standards for Proficiencies for
Instruction Librarians and Coordinators
UDI RUSA Guidelines
  • RUSA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of
    Reference and Information Service Providers
  • 1.1 Library patrons must be able to identify
    that a reference librarian is available to
    provide assistance and also must feel comfortable
    going to that person for help.
  • 1.4 The librarian establishes eye contact with
    patrons, and acknowledges the presence of patrons
    through smiling and attentive and welcoming body
  • 1.7 The librarian roves through the reference
    area offering assistance whenever possible.
    Librarians should make themselves available to
    patrons by offering assistance at their
    point-of-need rather than waiting for patrons to
    come to the reference desk.

See RUSA RSS Guidelines
UDI RUSA Guidelines
  • 3.0 The librarian must be effective in
    identifying the patrons information needs and
    must do so in a manner that keeps patrons at
  • 3.7 The librarian uses open-ended questioning
    techniques to encourage patrons to expand on the
    request or present additional information.
  • 3.8 The librarian uses closed and/or clarifying
    questions to refine the search query.

See RUSA RSS Guidelines
UDI Active Learning
  • Universal Design for Instruction does not replace
    Active Learning methods of teaching.
  • Active Learning methods of teaching become even
    more essential in the framework of UDI.

Applying Universal Design to Information
Literacy (UDIL)
  • Barriers exist in the instruction, not in the
    user, and thus it is the instruction that must
    change. This change in mindset alone improves
    interactions between the non-disabled and people
    with disabilities, as they become potential
    partners in addressing the common problem of
    shortcomings in instructional design rather than
    exhibiting an inequitable power relationship
    where one person is the problem and the other the
    problem solver.

See Creamer (2007) p 14.
UDI Principle 1 Equitable Use
  • Instruction is designed to be useful to and
    accessible by people with diverse abilities.
    Provide the same means of use for all students
    identical whenever possible, equivalent when not.
  • Create online print course guides handouts
  • Spell vocally and write out search words
  • Print words (avoid cursive)
  • Use a sans-serif font
  • Video or screencast library tours, tutorials and

UDI Principle 2 Flexibility in Use
  • Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide
    range of individual abilities. Provide Choice in
    methods of use.
  • Preview review lesson plan with a vocalized
    written agenda
  • Use of active learning methods that engage
    multiple senses
  • Repeat back questions
  • Focus attention internally by asking many
    questions of the students
  • Parallel searching / modeling a search
  • Explain as you go

UDI Principle 3 Simple and Intuitive Instruction
  • Instruction is designed in a straightforward and
    predictable manner, regardless of the student's
    experience, knowledge, language skills, or
    current concentration level. Eliminate
    unnecessary complexity.
  • Eliminate library lingo library-centered
  • Teach only skills directly related to completing
    the assignment
  • Provide one-on-one instructional assistance and
    workshops to reduce library anxiety
  • Use student-chosen topics
  • Scaffold questions (hard and soft scaffolding)

UDI Principle 4 Perceptible Information
  • Instruction is designed so that necessary
    information is communicated effectively,
    regardless of ambient conditions or the student's
    sensory abilities.
  • Shorten task instructions by using few words in
    giving directions
  • Present information in multiple formats
  • Stress usability features in databases
    websites, built in dictionaries and ability to
    get HTML version rather than PDF versions
  • Inviting and clear signage with visuals

UDI Principle 5 Tolerance for Error
  • Instruction anticipates variation in individual
    student learning pace and requisite skills.
  • Allocate 1/3 to 1/2 of each class for assisted
    individual work time
  • Begin to build a relationship with the student
    over the course a semester
  • Use conversation to help move student from an
    ill-structured topic to one that is better suited
    both to their interests and research level.

UDI Principle 6 Low Physical Effort
  • Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential
    physical effort in order to allow maximum
    attention to learning.
  • Use of citation making software, print icons, and
    other built-in time-saving shortcuts
  • Decrease repetitiveness of tasks
  • Roving
  • A reference interview is not always appropriate

UDI Principle 7 Size and Space for Approach and
  • Instruction is designed with consideration for
    appropriate size and space for approach, reach,
    manipulations, and use regardless of a students
    body size, posture, mobility, and communication
  • Redesign library instruction space to maximize
    collaboration and minimize distractions (see
    Chevron style for larger groups).
  • Reference/circulation desks are low
  • Accessible places for parallel searching
  • Have open spaces, akin to white space on a web
    page to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed

UDI Principle 8 A Community of Learners
  • The instructional environment promotes
    interaction and communication among students and
    between students and faculty.
  • Bring a sign-up sheet to class to make follow up
  • Check in on research progress by e-mail and by
    roving the library
  • Encourage collaboration among the students during
  • Meet with faculty individually and in groups to
    collaborate on developing inclusive instruction
  • Stress that anxiety is a normal part of doing
    Library research

UDI Principle 9 Instructional Climate
  • Instruction is designed to be welcoming and
    inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all
  • Have a goal that provides motivation
  • Work with faculty to have a specific goal, such
    as finding at least one research article on the
  • Be aware of your body language
  • Have empathy

How we apply UDIL Principles
Applying UDI principles in your Library
  • What are your experiences with learning
    differences in your Library?
  • What techniques can you recommend?
  • How will you/do you apply UDIL in your Library?

  • A list of more sources on Universal Design
    Assistive Technology as well as the bibliography
    for this presentation are available in screen
    reader friendly format at
  • http//
  • http//

The bibliography is also available in the notes
field of this powerpoint.