Campus News

Learn to Create a More Accessible World Through New Universal Design Program at UK

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 31, 2016) From design students to special education teachers, individuals passionate about creating environments where all types of individuals thrive  regardless of age and ability — can now receive universal design instruction and training at the University of Kentucky.

"Universal design (UD) utilizes a broad set of strategies that promote inclusion and participation of all, particularly people with disabilities, within a diverse world," said Kathy Sheppard-Jones, director of the UK Human Development Institute (HDI). "Because UD is highly interdisciplinary, students will find relevance to their own areas of interest regardless of major."

The new Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design is offered by UK HDI and housed within the Division of Undergraduate Education, however, post-baccalaureate students may also apply to participate.

Nineteen faculty across 12 colleges will be involved in administering the interdisciplinary program. From public health to engineering and education to design, the program will enhance understanding of universal design as it specifically relates to a range of careers.

"This certificate will benefit anyone who wants to ensure that programs, products and environments are accessible by the widest array of users possible," Sheppard-Jones said. “For example, a social work student who is developing a community outreach training would be thinking about how to present the materials using universal design for learning principles to better engage the entire audience. Universal design is about considering diverse needs and wants from the start.”

The certificate comprises three new courses: an introduction universal design course, a universal design practicum where students go into the campus community to learn about physical spaces, and an advanced techniques course where students will gain experience directly related to their interests. An elective course fulfills the 12 hours of coursework required for the certificate. The introduction course, "Universal Design: Applications in the Built, Virtual and Learning Environments" (HDI350) will be offered fall 2016. Students can apply for the certificate once they begin the course.

To register for the introduction universal design course for fall 2016, search HDI 350 in the course catalog, under the "plan and register for courses" tab in myUK. Individuals needing to apply as a post-baccalaureate student who have not already applied to the UK Graduate School can do so online at

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