A look into the Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design

Posted on

Universal Design affects everyone—students of all disciplines, people with disabilities, and any other community members. Universal design creates spaces and products that are as usable as possible by as many people as possible. 

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design. In this program, students learn about and benefit from Universal Design’s broad set of strategies that promote inclusion and participation of all people.

A student in HDI 500: Practicum II, Ann Switzer, developed audio and video materials to increase accessibility of online and in-person events, and applied her knowledge to community musical events.

Students learn through hands-on experience to develop practical skills and knowledge, improving confidence, self advocacy, and professional skills. “For any future professional settings, this has given me a great start that I will always carry with me,” Switzer says.

At the start of her practicum experience, she felt overwhelmed learning new skills at once. “Being taught work-related computer and hands-on music equipment set-up skills can at first be scary and you cannot see how you will ever learn them,” she says. “I also realized that they can be learned when taken one step at a time and with great patience from instructors.”

A lot of us know what it’s like to be scared during our first week of classes, at a first job, or in a new environment. Switzer notes this is even more common with people with disabilities who often face societal barriers, like untrained instructors and inaccessible work and learning environments. 

Switzer says, “It takes going through this to gain the confidence to take on other new and scary challenges. This applies to everyone but especially to those with disabilities who may have heard more about what they are not capable of.” 

This practicum allowed Switzer to gain confidence before starting a job in the real world. She developed practical skills and coping mechanisms for when she feels overwhelmed. 

“I know to not be upset when things seem too much and too hard [at first],” she says. “To start with small steps and take it a day at a time. I learned to ask questions and for help when needed. I learned that these fears and insecurities apply to everyone and to remember this when I am asking others to help me with projects.”

At the Human Development Institute, it is always a goal of ours to ensure accessibility, self advocacy, and growth in our students. Switzer’s experience demonstrates just that. 

Are you interested in learning more about the UK Human Development Institute Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design? Visit https://hdi.uky.edu/undergraduate-certificate to learn more.