Getting Started with Universal Design for Learning

Accessibility Best Practices Engaging Student Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based instructional design framework for creating a flexible learning environment optimized to meet the needs of a diverse student population. UDL’s purpose is to minimize barriers and maximize learning opportunities for all students through three principles: (1) providing multiple means of engagement, (2) providing multiple means of representation, and (3) providing multiple means of action or expression. To learn more about the design of the framework, see this video.

What Do the UDL Principles Mean?

Multiple Means of Engagement

This principle concerns creating a learning environment that engages motivation through instructional guidelines that recruit interest, sustain effort and persistence, and support self-regulation. It assumes that using multiple techniques to motivate learning is most effective.

Multiple Means of Representation

This principle is concerned with representing information through multiple formats to support learners with sensory disabilities, language barriers, cultural differences, or personal preferences.  Instructional guidelines for this principle concern supporting perception, language and symbols, and comprehension.

Multiple Means of Action and Expression

This principle concerns creating a learning environment that accommodates the different ways that learners navigate and express knowledge, addressing the needs of students with physical or cognitive disabilities as well as students with language barriers or little prior knowledge. Its guidelines concern physical action, expression and communication, and executive functions.

How to Get Started with UDL

Bare in mind – UDL guidelines are non-prescriptive suggestions to maximize learning opportunities and they are meant to benefit all students. You may integrate specific guidelines or checkpoints with curriculum to address a specific challenge or learning goal! See these resources to explore how you can apply UDL principles to maximize learning in your teaching practice.