Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development and delivery that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.

It provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone; not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. (CAST, 2014.)

“Venn Diagram” by University of Denver is licensed under CC BY 4.0/ Design modified from original

RDP Learner Centeredness Connection

UDL incorporates and supports many current research-based approaches to teaching and learning including, learner centered practice. The Principles of UDL, can help to provide a learner-centered reference point for adapting curriculum and instruction.

Provide Multiple Means of Representation
“The What of Learning” Presents information and content in different ways. Provide options for Perception, Language, symbols and Comprehension.
Provide Multiple Means of Expression
“The How of Learning” Differentiate the ways that students can express what they know. Provide options for Physical action, Expressive skills, fluency, and Executive functions.
Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
“The Why of Learning” Stimulate interest and motivation for learning. Provide options for Recruiting interest, Sustaining effort, persistence and Self-regulation.

Seven Universal Instructional Design Principles

Provide options for perception

 Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols

 Provide options for comprehension

Provide options for physical action

 Provide options for expression and communication

 Provide options for executive functions

Provide options for recruiting interest

 Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence

 Provide options for self-regulation

Universal Instructional Design is a process that involves considering the potential needs of all learners when designing and delivering instruction.


UID means identifying and eliminating unnecessary barriers to teaching and learning while maintaining academic rigor.


UID is about truly universal thinking – it goes beyond mere accessibility to reflecting on how to maximize learning for students of all backgrounds and learner preferences while minimizing the need for special accommodations.

Implementing UDL principles when designing and developing for online material is important to help meet the diverse learning needs of students.

Achieving UDL for online learning environments often begins with the UDL principle Multiple Means of Representation, however, actively seeking to incorporate all three UDL principles is important as well.


Learn more about UDL and Online Learning:
Accessibility to E-Learning for Persons With Disabilities: Strategies, Guidelines, and Standards. (An eCampus Alberta and NorQuest College resource)

Burghstaler, S. (2012). Universal design in postsecondary education: Process, principles, and applications. Retrieved Feb 4, 2013 from http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Academics/ud_post.html

CAST. (2014). Transforming education through universal design for learning. Retrieved Feb 4, 2015 from http://www.cast.org


eCampusAlberta and NorQuest College, (2008). Accessibility to e-Learning for persons with disabilities: Strategies, guidelines, and standards. Retrieved February 21, 2015 from https://www.norquest.ca/NorquestCollege


Roberts, K., Park, H., Brown, S. & Cook, B. (2011). Universal design for Instruction in postsecondary education systematic review of empirically based articles. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 24(1), p.5-15.


Seven Universal Instructional Design Principles source: University of Guelph


View Article via RDP Library