Did the title blow your mind? I know, tight? I attended a one-day conference today in Boston covering the topics mentions in the title and it was impressive. the idea behind Universal Design is to facilitate accessibility to all people - an extension of the idea of specific modifications for specific needs; Assistive technologies are exactly as the name implies.
The first session I attended focused on universal design in education. One of the things that really excites me about universal design principles in education is that you end up not only addressing issues where the student may have a physical challenge but almost always, these design principles address multiple learning styles and make the material you are presenting more accessible literally to everyone it is presented to.
The second session featured a number of leaders of in Education and politics in our state including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. We heard about initiatives at the state level that have been implemented and that are in progress and were charged by the Governor with taking what we learn and discuss at the conference as a call to action and not just idle chatter.
I spent some time in the exposition hall looking at some of the technological innovations on the market being used to facilitate universal design - there were unusual marvels that would be so easy to love over but seeing them demonstrated with the target demographic in mind really was eye opening.
It was a nice way to spend the day away from the usual grind on campus plus I got to hang out with some colleagues and have a nice lunch in the atrium of the Boston Public Library (more glamorous than it sounds to those who don't know).