Grant Projects

ACCESS Project


Funder: U.S. Department of Education
Office of Postsecondary Education

Project Website:

ACCESS Key Personnel:
Cathy Schelly, M.Ed., OTR; Assistant Professor, CCP DirectorPrincipal Investigator (PI)
Patti Davies, Ph.D., OTR, FAOTA; Associate ProfessorCo-PI and Research Director
Marla Roll, M.S., OTR; Assistant Professor, ATRC DirectorCo-PI
Craig Spooner, M.A.Project Coordinator
Julia Kothe, M.Ed.; CCP Assistant DirectorSelf Advocacy Coordinator
Cynthia Spang Tate, M.A.; CCP Marketing SpecialistSelf Advocacy Specialist
John Paul Harris, BA, BS; ATRC IT CoordinatorUDL/Accessibility Trainer

The ACCESS project at Colorado State University builds on preliminary, successful implementation and dissemination of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and strategies for creating inclusive classroom instruction and accessible course materials. ACCESS is providing compelling evidence about UDL’s effectiveness as a methodology for improving the learning experience and persistence of college students with disabilities; additionally, the ACCESS project’s unique dual-strategy approach, combining UDL with student self-advocacy, is expected to enhance student learning and persistence outcomes even further.

ACCESS goals include:

  • Institutionalization and expansion of UDL dissemination and implementation:
         UDL principles and strategies are being implemented in multiple undergraduate courses at CSU in a variety of historically difficult content areas, addressing the issue of poor persistence on the part of students with disabilities in these gateway courses. As a component of a bold initiative to institutionalize and expand UDL implementation, a university-wide award has been instituted at CSU in recognition of innovative instruction involving UDL practices. UDL dissemination and implementation will also occur at the 33 IHEs in Colorado and Wyoming via the Colorado/Wyoming Consortium of Support Programs for Students with Disabilities, as part of ACCESS II’s mission of widespread dissemination and replication.
  • Comprehensive integration of student self-advocacy principles and strategies:
         Educational success occurs at the intersection of good teaching and students’ ownership of and responsibility for their learning. To address each student’s role in his or her college experience, and to complement UDL implementation activities, ACCESS promotes student self-advocacy (SA) guidelines and resources in multiple venues at CSU, across each of the 33 participating campuses in Colorado and Wyoming, and at the 337 high schools in Colorado to assist students with disabilities in their transition to college. With the incorporation of SA training and mentoring into ACCESS, students with disabilities improve their learning trajectories by purposefully identifying and requesting needed accommodations and by connecting with instructional modalities that match their learning styles and needs.
  • Measurement of faculty commitment and student outcomes:
         The percentage of faculty trained in project activities that incorporate UDL strategies into their classroom teaching will be measured. In addition, student outcomes will be measured during the semester and at semester end to track students’ learning experiences and performance. The effect of UDL and SA on student persistence will be determined by tracking individual student success in completing the courses that implement UDL, as well as the students who receive SA instruction and guidance. Comparisons, including student course completion, student persistence, and student performance, will be drawn between students with documented disabilities and those without documented disabilities who have participated in the targeted courses where UDL and SA are incorporated.
         Predicted short-term outcomes include regional dissemination of UDL and SA, improved UDL research instruments, and compilation and analysis of data collected from students and instructors who participate in UDL and SA implementation. Anticipated intermediate and long-term outcomes include the publication of groundbreaking data about the effectiveness of UDL and SA as a model for best teaching practices in higher education, along with a research model that can be replicated and expanded at other institutions. Further long-term outcomes will include the institutionalization of UDL and student SA in multiple university systems to ensure that students with disabilities receive a quality higher education for years to come.

Watch the video, Best Practices through Universal Design for Learning:

Watch the video, College to Career Success

College to Career Success (with captions)
College to Career Success (no captions)

Read more about UDL:

Schelly, C. L., Davies, P. L., & Spooner, C. L. (2011).
Student Perceptions of Faculty Implementation of Universal Design for Learning. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 24(1), 17-28.