Embracing Inclusivity Through Conference Design

The inclusive principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) have been the guiding force for the conference committee from the very inception of the UDL conference at the University of Worcester. The organising team has been steadfast in their commitment to employing UDL to design an inclusive conference experience, ensuring that everyone feels included, valued, and empowered throughout the three-day event.

Designing an Inclusive Experience

This commitment to inclusivity is reflected in various aspects of the conference, including the lightning talks, poster presentations, and roundtable discussions. The lightning talks were designed to deliver innovative ideas in small, digestible chunks, making it easier for participants to absorb and engage with new concepts. Poster presentations provided a platform for stimulating dialogue and exchanging ideas, fostering a collaborative learning environment. The roundtable discussions offered a more connected social experience, leveraging our natural storytelling skills to facilitate meaningful conversations about our experiences in inclusive education.

Storytelling Roundtables

Fostering Student Leadership: A Path Towards Social Change and Resilience

One of the highlights of the conference was the storytelling roundtables, which aimed to use personal narratives to spark discussions on inclusive education. One particularly inspiring session was led by Professor Hanan Bennoudi from Ibn Zohr University in Morocco. Professor Bennoudi shared her powerful story about fostering student leadership as a means of driving social change and building resilience. Teaching at a public university, she recounted how her students engaged in civic activities and leadership initiatives, allowing them to express themselves and take the initiative in various projects.

The journey began within the university environment and soon extended to the broader community. Students organised clean-up teams that operated on the beach in Agadir and in local hospitals. This project was particularly significant as many of these students were the first in their families to attend university. Professor Bennoudi highlighted the diverse experiences between genders and class backgrounds, illustrating how these dynamics influenced the students’ participation and impact.

UDL as Instructional Design Theory: Discussing the Evidence

Dr Elizabeth Dalton from Dalton Educational Services International and Professor Susie Gronseth from the University of Houston, USA, explored UDL as an instructional design theory. They examined the current evidence supporting UDL’s effectiveness and discussed how it can be systematically applied to improve educational outcomes.

What are the Next Steps for Europe around Inclusive Education and UDL?

Assistant Professor Tracy Galvin from the University of Ulster, UK, and Associate Professor Linda Plantin Ewe from Kristianstad University, Sweden, delved into the future of inclusive education and UDL in Europe. They shared

findings from recent studies and proposed recommendations for advancing UDL practices across European educational institutions.

The Lived Reality of UDL – A Student Perspective

Chris Osbourne and Dawn Goodall from the University of Worcester, UK, provided insights into the real-world application of UDL from a student’s viewpoint. Their discussion highlighted the practical challenges and benefits students experience with UDL, offering valuable feedback for educators aiming to implement these principles effectively.

UDL: The Unexpected Outcomes of Using Podcasts as an Assessment

Kirsty Fraser from the University of Worcester, UK, discussed the innovative use of podcasts as a form of assessment within the UDL framework. She revealed surprising outcomes, demonstrating how this approach can enhance student engagement and provide diverse means of expression and evaluation.

The Impact of Inclusive Education

The storytelling roundtable underscored the transformative power of inclusive education. By providing opportunities for students to lead and engage with their communities, the projects shared have not only benefitted the local environment but also helped the students develop crucial skills and confidence. The initiative demonstrated that when students are given the chance to lead, they can effect meaningful change and build resilience in themselves and their communities and when we provide learning experiences through a UDL, they have a very real impact.


The UDL conference presenters at the University of Worcester are a testament to the power of inclusive design in creating a welcoming and empowering environment for all participants. Through lightning talks, poster presentations, and storytelling roundtables, the conference has highlighted the importance of inclusivity in education and showcased innovative approaches to implementing UDL principles. As the round table talks concluded, delegates left inspired and equipped with new ideas to promote inclusivity in their own educational contexts, furthering the cause of universal design for learning.