Universal Design for Learning

What Is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

UDL is founded on the understanding that there is no such thing as "an average learner." ALL learners are individuals with unique characteristics and combinations of strengths and weaknesses. UDL promotes the development of flexible learning materials, activities, and assessments that are effective for all learners. UDL also focuses on being proactive and designing a course for ALL students in advance, rather than taking a reactive approach and waiting until students are struggling. The focus again becomes ALL students and providing them multiple ways to access content and participate in the course.

There are three fundamental principles, based on neuroscience, that serve as the framework for UDL:

  1. Provide multiple means of representation of learning content, including use of technologies and media types
  2. Provide multiple means of expression for learners to demonstrate what they know
  3. Provide multiple means of engagement with what is being learned

View the Full UDL Guidelines Graphic Organizer to learn more. 

Note that although they overlap, accessibility and universal design are not equivalent. Accessibility for learners with disabilities is an integral part of universal design. However, as the name implies, universal design concepts apply universally, with the goal of making education more effective for ALL learners.

The following are resources on the topic of universal design for online teaching: