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Increasing Accessibility in Couple and Family Therapy Training: Incorporating Universal Design for Instruction


In the last three decades the number of US graduate students with disabilities has increased exponentially. Institutions of higher education have responded by developing and implementing multiple programs and initiatives to meet the needs of this population. One initiative, Universal Design for Instruction (UDI), is believed to have considerable promise. There is a lack of marriage and family therapy (MFT) literature on how to develop and implement pedagogical strategies for students with disabilities and diverse learning styles. Thus, UDI has the potential to enable MFT educators to increasingly foster inclusivity and provide accessible educational experiences for all students, including those with disabilities. When correctly incorporated UDI should diminish the need for individualized accommodations and increase the accessibility of courses and clinical training. We provide a synopsis of the history and philosophy of UDI and describe strategies for applying its nine principles to MFT education.

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Anibal Torres Bernal would like to acknowledge Isabelle Wilczewski and Nicole O’Brien for their invaluable help and support in the development of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Aníbal Torres Bernal.

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Aníbal Torres Bernal and David Zera contributed equally to the development of this manuscript.

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Bernal, A.T., Zera, D.A. Increasing Accessibility in Couple and Family Therapy Training: Incorporating Universal Design for Instruction. Contemp Fam Ther 34, 112–123 (2012).

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  • Family therapy education
  • Educational accessibility
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities