Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

According to researchers at the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University, Universal design is defined as, “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for special accommodations.”

Universal Design for Learning or UDL can ensure equal access to the educational environment for all learners.  It celebrates human differences and promotes an inclusion based approach to our culture; research shows that this approach helps increase GPA and retention for all students.  UDL minimizes the differences in the student community.

UDL key elements include:  Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and Environment.

  • Curriculum is determined by what the professor wants the student to learn.
  • Instruction incorporates multiple methods of presentation.
  • Assessment is done through evaluating what strategies are working and what needs to be changed.
  • Environment refers to a space conducive to all learners.
Examples of Universal Design in Education
In Instruction In Services In Information Technology In Physical Spaces
A statement on a syllabus that invites students to meet with the instructor to discuss learning needs Service counters that are at heights accessible from both a seated and standing position Captioned videos Clear directional signs that have large, high-print contrast
Multiple delivery methods that motivate and engage all learners Staff who are aware of resources and procedures for providing disability-related accommodations Procurement policies and procedures that promote the purchase of accessible products Restrooms, classrooms, and other facilities that are physically accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs or walkers
Regular, accessible, and effective interactions between students and the instructor A statement in publications about how to request special assistance, such as a disability-related accommodation Adherence to standards for the accessible and usable design of websites Furniture and fixtures in classrooms that are adjustable in height and allow arrangements for different learning activities and student groupings
Assessing student learning using multiple methods Printed publications that are available in alternate formats (e.g., electronic, large print, Braille) Computers that are on adjustable-height tables Non-slip walking surfaces

Source:  Universal Design in Higher Education. Promising Practices. (page 14)

TLT Con May 2020 - Universal Design for Learning - Presentation