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Universal Design for Learning
Equity Education and Anti-Oppression Frameworks

Representation Principle Through an Antiracist and Anti-Oppressive Practice Lens

Given our unique set of social identitiesOpens in a new window, our resulting beliefs about who we are and how we are seen by others, and our expectations when it comes to learning, it is no wonder that the very idea that anyone in a class of learners could be “average” makes no sense!

Let’s explore the Representation principle using the lens of antiracismOpens in a new window (AR) and anti-oppressive practiceOpens in a new window (AOP) and consider how the “what” of learning might expand to take into account the lived experiences of people whose lives are impacted by oppressive social structures.

This chart expands on some ways that Multiple Means of Representation can be understood through an antiracism and anti-oppression lens:

Here are some ways that the Multiple Means of Representation guidelines might be viewed using an equity, AR/AOP education lens.

The CAST guidelines for the Representation principle are:

Across these three guidelines, as educators, we must also consider:

  • Text with audio, images with text, and videos with captions acknowledge and value oral and image-based forms and traditions of relaying knowledge.
  • Removing or explaining culturally exclusive phrases helps to remove cultural barriers to meaning construction.
  • Exploring materials available across languages (e.g., encouraging students to use translation technology with text and downloadable transcripts) offers options in first languages.
  • Learners’ lived experiences are honoured when content has been sourced from and reflects a variety of social identities, knowledges, and culturally authentic representations and ways of knowing.
  • Scaffolding and check-ins are more meaningful when they include and invite authentic connections to intersecting identities that comprise lived experiences, and support expression and solidarity.

Goal: To become resourceful and knowledgeable learners.

From an equityOpens in a new window perspective, content and materials that reinforce the hierarchy of text over oral or image-based traditions may dismiss a learner’s lived experience and cultural ways of information sharing. This sends the message that many cultural forms of relaying knowledge have less value, and thus limits avenues for exploration.

If you do not intentionally, deliberately, and proactively include, you will unintentionally exclude.

Gerstandt, 2011
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