Colorado Early Learning:
Universal Design & Inclusion Project

This special project was developed to support and train child care providers to meet the needs of children with delays and disabilities in an inclusive child care setting. We are excited to bring the Universal Design & Inclusion Project to child care providers throughout Colorado. 

The fall of 2020 brought the first 25 participating child care providers together for a combination of small group learning, one on one coaching sessions, and an Introduction to Universal Design webinar. To support and implement their learning, each program received a kit of adapted materials. These kits featured a wide variety of simple, low cost items for adapting toys, books, and learning environments to support all children, including those with delays and disabilities.

The project is supported and funded by the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. In the first four years, the project will have trained over 200 licensed child care providers, homes and centers, to create classrooms that meet the needs of all children. Through the implementation of inclusion and universal design principles, these providers will expand inclusive, supportive child care options for children and their families. 

Through this project, a model for the application of assistive technology (AT) and inclusive learning and design is being offered and refined to promote effective early learning environments for children with delays and disabilities.

The model, originally funded by the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a federal grant awarded to Colorado, is being offered to a select number of licensed child care providers. The Colorado Early Learning: Universal Design & Inclusion Project was developed to train and prepare child care providers to support and meet the needs of children with delays and disabilities in an inclusive child care setting.

The goal of the project, being implemented by the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering through the University of Colorado Denver, is to expand Colorado’s child care provider capacity and ensure children with a wide variety of delays and disabilities can fully access and participate in their early learning environment.

  1. Increase educational, caregiver and related service staff knowledge in the implementation of inclusive design and delivery of low-tech AT services, and;
  2. Create positive outcomes that demonstrate the efficacy of low-tech AT services and inclusive design principles when implemented within a child care center or home child care setting.

Including underserved and vulnerable populations will be an important part of the project’s goals.

Each year of the project will focus on determining the needs of the child care providers in the cohort and developing effective methods to support their work. Each cohort will consist of licensed child care providers who are committed to advancing inclusion and universal design in their programs.

Licensed child care centers and family child care homes selected for participation will receive the following:

  • Up to 9 hours of free training for staff (live webinars and online trainings), including topics such as inclusion, universal design, making adaptations and modifications for a variety of delays and disabilities, and assistive technology;
  • Customized coaching from CU Denver faculty to meet the unique needs of children, staff, and the child care program;
  • An “Adapted Materials Kit” containing numerous low-cost, low-tech adapted materials, assistive technologies, and resources to support the development of inclusive learning environments;
  • Access to a loan library of low-tech and adapted tools and equipment to borrow for trial in the child care to determine its value and applicability to their setting before deciding to purchase.
Maureen Melonis Chris Perkins Paige Garman

Maureen Melonis, MNS, CCC-SLP/L

Christina Perkins, MA, CCC-SLP/L

Paige Garman, BA

Associate Director
Research Senior Instructor
Speech-Language Pathologist

Senior Research Instructor CDE SWAAAC Coordinator    Speech-Language Pathologist

Program Assistant I

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Participant Quote:

"Little adaptations lead to whole class celebrations!" - Erin Fisher, Abiding Hope Preschool and Kindergarten

Preschool children playing with toys at a table
Baby girl using a switch toy to control a switch adapted chihuahua toy
Little boy playing with a truck adapted with a shower ring
Little girls playing with sand toys outside
Colorado Early Learning: Universal Design & Inclusion Project

Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE)

CU Denver

The Hub, Bioengineering

1224 5th Street

Suite 130

Denver, CO 80204


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