Shauna Hanna

Universal Appeal: educators pledge to engage learners at biggest ever UDL‑IRN Summit


Universal Studios in Florida was the apt venue for last week’s record-breaking UDL-IRN Summit, billed as the meeting place ‘Where UDL Leaders Come to Learn’. Proudly supported by Texthelp, this year’s Summit welcomed 500 delegates in person, plus hundreds more joining online from around the world.


While its roots lie in the US, Universal Design for Learning has blossomed into a global phenomenon. Attendees from the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific proved the point, united in their enthusiasm to connect UDL with an even broader audience.

Fresh thoughts on inclusive learning

In a packed three-day programme of talks, workshops and interactive play, delegates shared fresh thinking on ‘edge to edge’ educational strategies to ensure that no learner’s overlooked, regardless of their age, culture or individual needs.

The Texthelp team engaged with a galaxy of UDL ‘rockstars’ – spanning educators, academics, researchers and nonprofits – to gauge the state of play and predict where universal design’s heading next.

Delegates dropping by the Texthelp video booth shared their own thoughts on camera. There’s broad consensus that UDL is transitioning rapidly from a great idea to tangible, evidenced implementation. The next step, Summit visitors agreed, is taking Universal Design beyond its original community of learners with ‘special’ ed needs and ensuring it’s ingrained in everybody’s lifelong learning journey. Great design is great design, whether it’s using tech to broaden your curriculum’s appeal or reaching out to kids who’ve been failed by conventional classroom approaches.

Math, STEM teaching & learning reinvented with EquatIO

In the main conference hall, Texthelp founder and CTO Martin McKay demonstrated EquatIO, our universally-designed tool that helps teachers and pupils create and share mathematical expressions the way they want to - scribbled by hand, spoken or typed. It’s a great example of how UDL allows us to redesign the learning experience, making it richer, smarter and more accessible for students across all subjects, including math and STEM that have been poorly served by digital learning tools until now.

UDL is an unstoppable phenomenon that’s finding new applications and new audiences everywhere. With the right support, this year’s Summit visitors enthusiastically concurred, everybody can enjoy their right to become an expert learner.

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