Underpinning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives with a Universal Design Framework


Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 3 on Friday, November 19, 2021.



  • Sheryl Burgstahler, Director, Accessible Technology Services, University of Washington

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


Universal Design (UD) has emerged as a promising framework for addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues on our campuses, including those related to IT. Post-pandemic campus-wide planning efforts present a unique opportunity to explore how a UD Framework can increase the quality of all that postsecondary education has to offer.


Universal design (UD) has emerged as a paradigm to address diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for a broad range of applications. The presenter will share historical highlights of approaches for providing access to students with disabilities and present the principles that support the application of UD in higher education (UDHE)—specifically, the 7 principles of UD. the 3 principles of UDL, and the 4 principles of IT accessibility that underpin the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). She will describe how an institution can flesh out each aspect of the Framework to make it their own—including scope, definition, principles, guidelines, exemplary practices, process—and share an example of how it has underpinned the procurement, development, and use of accessible IT on a postsecondary campus. She will discuss how the UDHE Framework can lead to an Inclusive Campus Model in order to maximize positive impacts and share useful resources.


  1. A UD approach underpins a Framework that can be used to address diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  2. UD principles can be applied to all aspects of postsecondary education.
  3. Partnerships, promising practices, and tools can maximize the use of accessible IT.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Captioning/Transcription, Faculty Development & Support, Procurement, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Sheryl Burgstahler

Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler founded and directs Accessible Technology Services, which includes the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center and the IT Accessibility Team within UW-IT at the University of Washington (UW). These units promote (1) the success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers and (2) the development of facilities, IT, services, and learning activities that are welcoming and accessible to individuals with disabilities through the application of a Universal Design (UD) Framework. ITAT focuses efforts at the UW; the DO-IT Center reaches national and international audiences with the support of federal, state, corporate, foundation, and private funds. Dr. Burgstahler is an affiliate professor in the UW College of Education. She developed and continues to teach a graduate course in applications of universal design in higher education at City University of New York.