Moving Beyond Assumptions of Cultural Neutrality to Improve Accessibility and Opportunity to Learn for English Language Learners

  • Tim BoalsEmail author
  • Mariana Castro
  • Lynn Shafer Willner


The purposes of this chapter are twofold: (a) to suggest that sociocultural framing of UDL would more effectively support ELLs and (b) to examine in greater detail what sociocultural reframing of UDL could look like in assessment activities in which ELLs are participating. Similar to the second language acquisition field that began to take a “social turn” in the 1990s, we concur with disabilities researchers who, two decades ago, proposed a similar “social turn” might be taken to more explicitly extend UDL beyond its cognitive neuroscience roots to incorporate sociocultural lenses. Remember that students’ own linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism have been and continue to be part of schooling. Instead of ignoring them or treating them as challenges, we invite educators to counter current policies and practices seeking to maintain hegemonic monocultural and monolingual approaches to learning and instead to embrace cultural and linguistic pluralism as additional opportunities to learn and natural accessibility practices.


English language learns Achievement gap analysis Cultural neutrality 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Boals
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mariana Castro
    • 1
  • Lynn Shafer Willner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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