Universal Design for Learning

The term Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.


The definition of Universal Design for Learning is it: (A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and  challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities.

The three primary principles include:

Three UDL Networks - provide multiple means of engagement, provide multiple means of representation, provide multiple means of action and expression

1: Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

  • Stimulate interest and motivation for learning
  • “why” students should learn, care, and feel it’s important

2: Provide Multiple Means of Representation

  • Present information and content in different ways
  • “WHAT” students do to learn

3: Provide Multiple Means of Action & Expression

  • Provide different ways students can express what they know
  • “how” students express and demonstrate what they have learned

Teaching with UDL

Applying UDL to your course will create a more inclusive learning environment which will benefits all learners, considering the wide diversity of the students that take your class. It is not something you apply once and immediately your course is UDL. Instead it is a continually process that requires time, effort, and commitment. It is best to start small with one or two activities or resource materials. It is also best to do it with others in a supportive environment. Consider enrolling in professional learning or join a learning community to support your efforts.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln Graduate Studies, (2018, October 30). Inclusive Teaching. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from https://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/connections/inclusive-teaching - practical tips on what to do before entering the classroom and teaching strategies used in the classroom

Kumar, Kari. “A Journey towards Creating an Inclusive Classroom: How Universal Design for Learning Has Transformed My Teaching.” Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, 10 Nov. 2010, pp.  1-5., https://www.kpu.ca/sites/default/files/Teaching%20and%20Learning/TD.4.2.5_Kumar_Inclusive_Classroom.pdf. -  This article describes a instructor's journey towards creating an inclusive classroom. She details the path that led her towards Universal Design for Learning (UDL) from teaching to her own learning style, to recognizing diversity in her learners, and to ultimately attempting to facilitate success of all students (including those with learning limitations such as learning disabilities) is described.


This is a collection of UDL resources from the leading organizations in UDL. 


Definition of UDL in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

 Original text on UDL by CAST is licensed CC BY SA

"Universal Design for Learning" image by CAST is licensed CC BY SA

"UDL at a glance" video by CAST is licensed CC BY SA

"What is UDL"by Katie Novak is licensed under the Standard YouTube license.