Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

This guide contains an overview of the what, why, and how of UDL.

What is Universal Design for Learning?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of design principles based on the neuroscience of how humans learn. It advocates for lowering barriers to learning for everyone in three broad ways:

  1. provide multiple means of learner engagement.
  2. provide multiple means of representing information
  3. provide multiple means for learners to take action and express themselves.

Why use a UDL framework in your course design?

UDL provides practical guidelines for selecting materials and creating learning environments that consider the variability of your students and provide all individuals equal opportunities to learn.  UDL emphasizes flexible approaches and not a 'one-size-fits-all' or dozens of individual accommodations. 

UDL Guidelines

The key guidelines are:

Provide multiple means of...

  1. Engagement (The "WHY" of learning)
  2. Represesntation (The "WHAT" of learning)
  3. Action & Expression (The "HOW" of learning)

CAST.org is an organization devoted to UDL research providing education and resources

Getting Started with UDL

Start by making small changes by shifting one or two practices, materials, or assignments in your course.

See UDL in Higher Ed by the CAST organization for concrete examples from higher education.

UDL Handouts

file-outline Intentionally Plan for Learner Variability with UDL - small-change-ideas-1.pdf (163.12 KB)

This document is an easy to read table containing small change ideas.

Credit: Amie Germain, 2020 for Ithaca College Center for Faculty Excellence.

file-outline UDL Guidelines v. 2.2 - udlg_graphicorganizer_v2-2_numbers-yes.pdf (210.04 KB)

The UDL Guidelines are organized both horizontally and vertically. Vertically, the Guidelines are organized according to the three principles of UDL: engagement, representation, and action and expression. The principles are broken down into Guidelines, and each of these Guidelines have corresponding “checkpoints” that provide more detailed suggestions. 

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

file-outline Key Questions to Consider When Planning Lessons - cast-udl-planningq-a11y.pdf (191.19 KB)

A version of the UDL Guidelines that represents each Guideline in the form of a question.

From: Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice Available at udltheorypractice.cast.org