Walking Backwards: Using Backwards Design to Improve Inclusivity


March 18, 2024 - 2:00 PM


March 18, 2024 - 3:00 PM

Walking Backwards: Using Backwards Design to Improve Inclusivity

Monday, 18 March 2024; 2:00 to 3:00 PM Eastern time

In this webinar, I’ll discuss what backwards design is, its merits and drawbacks. I’ll discuss how backwards design can be applied to technical writing in general, asking attendees to think of how an element of backwards design may have been used without knowing or how it could have been used. Then I’ll focus on simple inclusivity strategies that can be used in most technical writing assignments, but by keeping backwards design in mind and its steps, attendees should be able to find ways to include the inclusivity strategies effectively.

Backwards design:  Developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe was a new approach to curriculum for K-16 educators that asked curriculum writers and teachers to begin with the summative assessment in mind.

Most technical writers already start with the end in mind. However, I feel backwards designs can be too focused on the end in mind and not on the individual who needs to get to the end. So, I propose a twist on backwards design that focuses on the individual at the end of a project by looking for ways to improve inclusivity.

Inclusivity is achieved by applying the tenants of Universal Design Theory (UDL). UDL focuses on removing as many barriers to learning as possible. Examples include incorporating screen readers for digital products and using icons to indicate certain elements of a text, like examples or definitions. However, other barriers also exist that aren’t often recognized, such as English as another language. By applying Backwards Design, technical writers can find additional places where UDL techniques can be included, which will increase the success of the user and increase their enjoyment of using the written materials.

Backwards Design: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/interview-grant-wiggins-power-backwards-design-ben-johnson

UDL: Inclusive Education and UDL: an overview. – LinkedIn 



  • Discuss and demonstrate how to apply the steps of backwards design to general technical writing.
  • Discuss and demonstrate a few simple inclusivity strategies and how to use them while using backwards design.

Attendee Takeaways:

  • Attendees will learn how to apply the steps of backwards design to general technical writing.
  • Attendees will learn a few simple inclusivity strategies and how to use them while using backwards design.


For current CPTC certificants: This webinar provides 2 CEUs for recertification, in the Project Analysis, Written Communication, and Reviewing and Editing core competency areas.

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