Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning: Universal Design for Learning is a framework for instructional design built on the principles that (1) all students can learn (2) multiple means of content delivery and student assessment should be part of daily lessons and planning to enhance the learning process. (Thoma, Bartholomew, & Scott, 2009, p. 9). When UDL’s proactive approach is built into the design of educational practice, it fosters an environment in which learning and content are accessible to all students. The Center for Universal Design (2010) identifies seven principles of UDL: 1) equitable use; 2) flexibility in use; 3) simple and intuitive use; 4) perceptible information; 5) tolerance for error; 6) low physical effort, and 7) accessible size and space. Burgstahler (2010) encourages educators to address different portions of their classroom environment and instruction in a check-list format to implement UDL effectively. Educators can proactively design environments and instruction to meet the needs of diverse groups of learners by using approaches based in a UDL framework.

Evidence Base for Universal Design:

Articles and Websites
Hall, Tracey et. al. (2003) Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation: NCAC Effective Classroom Practices Report. National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. This paper examines the theory and research behind differentiated instruction and its intersection with UDL. UDL’s framework for recognition learning, strategic learning, and affective learning is discussed using examples with mathematics and natural sciences content. UDL teaching methods are compared to features of differentiated instruction. The paper concludes with recommendations for implementation at the classroom level.


National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials: http://aim.cast.org/ . This site provides multiple resources for educators, parents, publishers, and media producers interested in implementing accessible instructional materials (AIM). Teaching and training resources, papers, technologies, materials for AIM across the curriculum, and resources for parents are provided.
Burgstahler, S. E. (2010). “Universal Design in Higher Education.” In S. E. Burgstahler & R. C. Cory (Eds.), Universal Design in Higher Education: from Principles to Practice (pp. 3 – 20). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.


The Center for Universal Design. (2010). The Principals for Universal Design. Raleigh: North
Carolina State University. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from http://www.ncsu.edu/project/design-projects/udi/center-for-universal-design/the-principles-of-universal-design/


Thoma, C. A., Bartholomew, C. C., & Scott, L. A. (2009). Universal Design for Transition: a Roadmap for Planning and Instruction. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.