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Research & Data Collection

Survey Indicates that there is not a Shared Understanding of Universal Design Among Faculty

In order to evaluate change over time and the effectiveness of the UDUC project in increasing UD course content on the CU-Boulder campus, a survey was implemented to measure faculty attitudes and awareness of Universal Design, and to identify potential barriers towards implementing Universal Design in course content.

These baseline survey responses will serve as the control against which we can measure longitudinal change on the UCB campus. The data utilized to establish this baseline was collected by 1) a faculty survey and 2) an inventory of current UCB faculty who self-identify as proponents of UD using VIVO (CU Boulder’s searchable online faculty research database).

Key Findings:

Preliminary data suggests that while there is a small existing community of faculty who are promoting Universal Design in their courses, there is not a shared understanding of Universal Design even among the proponents.

  1. Survey results: When asked to rate their awareness with UD, (i.e. “I am familiar with Universal Design.”), 61% of faculty reported “Highly Disagree” or “Disagree” (with the majority, 45% reporting “Highly Disagree”).  It is interesting to note that a majority (52%) of the respondents reported that his/her teaching includes service learning or community engagement with persons outside of the UCB community. This statistic suggests that in order to align with the university’s goal to send students into diverse communities interacting with people of diverse abilities, UCB needs to address UD in curricular content by better preparing our students for such community engagement and service learning opportunities.
    The subjective responses collected in the survey are still being analyzed. These responses contain important examples of how faculty are incorporating UD in their courses in positive ways, as well as reports about potential barriers and misconceptions about UD which are preventing faculty from incorporating UD in their courses.
  2. VIVO results (Table 1):
    Table 1: Faculty who self-reported ability related research or teaching categories
Category September 2012

Universal Design


Inclusive Design


Disability Studies


Total (no overlaps reported among categories)


Many of the faculty who self-reported having a teaching or research interest in ability related content, when interviewed, were not clear on how they were addressing or assessing UD in their curriculum. These statistics suggest that:

  • Some faculty claim to address UD content in their courses, but are not effectively doing so
  • Many faculty are effectively incorporating UD into their course curricula but are not calling it UD or disability study and hence not reporting it as such.
As a result of these findings, and in conjunction with the responses reported in the faculty survey and interviews, an additional survey will be created to effectively assess whether faculty are or are not in fact incorporating UD into their course curricula according to established UD and UDL principles and not based on individually held perceptions of what UD is. This survey will be conducted in Year 2.