Universal Design for Learning Project
Renton Technical College students are the beneficiaries of a grant from the
Department of Education's
Demonstration Projects to Ensure Students with Learning Disabilities Receive A
Quality Higher Education. In late 2002, RTC received a three year grant
from the Department of Education to help provide support to students with
undiagnosed learning disabilities. In 2005, an additional three
years were granted to expand the project activities to include help
to all students with disabilities and to other community and
technical colleges in Washington State. According to an independent evaluator, the project was successful
in increasing the completion rate of all students over the course of the grant, with the greatest increases
shown for students with disabilities in UDL classrooms.
During the grant, over 30 programs and 4 staff departments,
including 3 off-campus sites used Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to help
students be more successful in college.
Instructors in these classrooms implement teaching strategies which have
been shown to be effective in helping students with learning disabilities.
Using the UDL paradigm, these strategies are offered to the entire class right
from the beginning of the quarter, which speeds up help to those who need it, and offers help to ALL
students, not just those with diagnosed disabilities.
Assistive technology plays an important role in helping students with learning
challenges succeed. Using UDL, Renton Technical College has provided
assistive technologies to students in the Pilot programs as well as
made them available to all students who use the Technology Resource Center's
Open Lab and Library.
Some of the technologies allow books and materials to be read aloud to
students, enlarge text and screen images, provide graphic display of text and
use voice recognition. There are also large screen monitors, special keyboards
and adjustable workstations. In the classroom, the grant has promoted the use
of interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors which increase accessibility to
visual materials for students. Students with disabilities who need assistance
should contact the
Special Needs Office.
One of the most innovative features of the project has been the creation of a
unique Student Learning Assessment System which helps both students and
instructors identify learning challenges and provide assistance directly in the
classroom. This system allows students to understand and take charge of their
learning strengths and weaknesses, and gives suggestions for research-based
strategies that may help with their specific learning concerns.
In 2009, RTC received a three year grant from College Spark to use the quantitative
and qualitative lessons learned from the DOE project and apply them to a slightly different
population: low income students. This project, called the Universal Design for Success project,
is designed to begin as a pilot in a small number of classrooms, expanding to a larger number
over the course of 3 years. Best practices will be shared with the Community and Technical
College system. To learn more about College Spark Washington, visit: