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ADCET UDL Symposium: Infecting our university with UDL, one academic at a time!

The recordings will be added here in late September

In-person presentation

Dr Helen Black, Annette Sartor and Nicole Bridges, Western Sydney University 

Three colleagues from different schools, started a journey from small beginnings of taking one subject in UDL in the Master of Education (Leadership) degree, towards an inclusive culture at our institution. They envisage UDL and inclusivity to be the new pandemic and want to ‘infect’ the institution one colleague at a time moving from ineffective and exclusionary traditional teaching to more adaptive, flexible, and comprehensive approaches, to engage and empower different types of learners, and to embrace what they bring to the tertiary experience. Inclusion is a journey, not a destination, and they aim to build on scholarly expertise, and reflective teaching experiences to spread an inclusive culture through sharing UDL approaches to colleagues.   

They initiate conversations with colleagues about inclusive language and question unconscious bias, by sharing resources and techniques for building an inclusive working and learning environment on campus and online. Challenges were anticipated in disrupting the status quo, as many academics are defensive about pedagogy and subject matters in which they are the expert. Even for those staff who support and understand the importance of UDL, academics are time poor, and research is often prioritised over curriculum rejuvenation. They hope to overcome barriers by sharing their experiences and showcasing the benefits of UDL to all students, by taking a proactive approach to meet diverse learners at the design stage.

In this session, they drew from the expertise of a collective audience to provide advice, examples and share strategies that have worked in other institutions. This assists them in their quest to lead by example in demonstrating curriculum renewal and cultural change at a broader level. They showcased how to adapt and build flexibility in learning materials, active learning activities, and effective assessments that lead to greater student engagement and success.  


Dr Helen Black is a Lecturer and accounting discipline lead for AACSB Assurance of Learning (AoL) in the School of Business at Western Sydney University.  Helen has 17 years in academia and currently coordinates large undergraduate accounting subjects.  Helen is and passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion, and incorporates UDL principles in building inclusive curriculum and developing an inclusive team culture within her teaching teams.  

Dr Annette Sartor is a Lecturer in the School of Education in a range of areas including inclusive education in which she coordinates and teaches the subject ‘Universal Design for Learning’ to practicing and pre-service teachers. With 40 years of experience, Annette’s teaching practices provide flexibility and responsiveness to learner needs to maximise engagement. Her approach of catering for the needs of diverse learners, has been recognised in a 2022 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning Award for providing pre-service teachers opportunities for professional development to develop skills and understandings for collaborating with diverse learners in inclusive educational settings. 

Dr Nicole Bridges is a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations and Director of Academic Program at Western Sydney University. Nicole has been an academic for 20 years and received numerous awards for her contributions to learning and teaching, including the Public Relations Institute of Australia Educator of the Year Award in 2020, a Western Sydney University Staff Postgraduate Coursework Study Scholarship in 2020, three Western Sydney University Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2012, 2013 and 2021), two Vice Chancellor's Excellence Awards for Learning and Teaching (2013 and 2015), and two Vice Chancellor's Professional Development Scholarships (2016 and 2024)."

(June 2024)