Using Universal Design Principles and Assistive Technology to Improve Student Learning and Success

Presenters: Donna Lange and Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh
Universal design in education is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles. During this presentation, participants will experience what it is like to be a deaf student in a mainstream college class and discuss what universal design principles could have been used to improve the instruction and learning, not only for deaf students, but for all the students in the class. The session will also include a discussion of assistive technologies most commonly used in STEM classes. Participants will be able to experiment with sample technologies during the session.

Donna Lange, Director, DeafTEC; Associate Professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology
Donna Lange has been teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate-level programs for over 25 years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), one of the nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. She is an associate professor and former chair of the applied computer technology department and has taught a variety of computer-related courses in the areas of both hardware and Web development. Lange is currently the principal investigator (PI) and center director of DeafTEC (, a technological education center for deaf and hard-of-hearing students that was established at RIT/NTID in 2011 through funding from the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) National Center of Excellence. The goal of the center is to successfully integrate more deaf individuals into the workplace in highly skilled technician jobs where these individuals are currently underrepresented and underutilized. Lange was formerly the PI of the NSF ATE projects Deaf Initiative in Information Technology I and II, offering professional development for deaf IT professionals. She was also co-PI of the NSF ATE national dual credit program Project Fast Forward. She holds a BS in Computer Science from SUNY Brockport and an MS in Software Development and Management from RIT.

Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, University of Southern Maine
Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh is the principal investigator (PI) for EAST Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM-Phase 2 (EAST-2), funded by the NSF. EAST-2 uses evidence-based practices to increase the quality and quantity of students with disabilities (SWDs) who enroll and persist in post-secondary STEM programs and complete STEM degrees at the University of Southern Maine (USM) and at partnering community colleges and high schools. Langley-Turnbaugh is passionate about improving science education for all, including persons with disabilities. She has written many publications that detail the best practices and research findings from 10 years of work with SWD. Langley-Turnbaugh is also leading the ADVANCEIT Catalyst project and is undertaking a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative assessment of systemic institutional factors affecting recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEM. Her work as co-PI with USM’s STEM scholar program emphasizes developing and implementing strategies for economically disadvantaged undergraduate STEM students for academic success and transition into STEM career pathways. She has a BS in Forest Engineering from the University of Maine, an MS in Soil Science from the University of New Hampshire, and a PhD in Forest Soils from University of Wisconsin-Madison.