STS: Universal Design in Education (UDE) across the Entire lifecycle

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet peoples’ needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.

The recent Covid pandemic has meant unparalleled changes to the delivery of education. Many activities which used to occur in a face-to-face setting moved online, and the role of digital environments rose to prominence. Thus, ensuring that education is inclusive to as wide a demographic as possible, now encompasses both the physical and digital realms, as well as the learning materials and assessments which make up programmes of study.

In this Special Thematic Session on Universal Design in Education we welcome contributions on topics which discuss ongoing efforts to make this core and essential aspect of our lives more inclusive. We welcome contributions which outline theoretical, as well as practical work. We are happy to receive contributions which are at an early-stage, or those which have progressed to a point where results are available. This Special Thematic Session particularly welcomes contributions from under-represented groups. The topics include, but are by no means limited to the following:

  • Development of programs that have impacted on national/regional Educational policies, standards or funding on creating a more universal design environment for all
  • A ‘whole systems’ approach to Universal Design in Education by examining the institutional policies, products and services, as well as the built and virtual environment, and learning content
  • Integration of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning into curricula at all levels of education, including learning materials and/or assessment
  • Novel ways in which on-campus spaces have been made more inclusive
  • Practical examples of efforts to ensure the accessibility of Virtual Learning environments
  • Projects with a focus on Universal Design in Education which actively involves the voice of all key stakeholders with a view to ensuring the diversity of those involved
  • Bridging the Digital Divide in Education through the lenses of Universal Design using novel approaches


  • Gerald Craddock, Chief Officer, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Ireland
  • Donal Fitzpatrick, Senior ICT Design Advisor Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Ireland
  • Jesús Hernández Galán, Director de Accesibilidad eInnovación Fundacion ONCE
  • Katerina Mavrou, Department of Education Sciences, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
  • Silvio Pagliara, GLIC Association, Italy

Information: sts17 at aaate2023 dot eu