Universal Design for Learning

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a flexible approach to curriculum design that helps you plan for the predictable ways that your learners will vary in how they learn. UDL guides you to plan options and supports for representing information, and for students expressing knowledge and engaging in tasks. By designing your course with many learners in mind, it reduces the need to make changes later and can improve learning for everyone.

CAST says “Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. First articulated by CAST in the 1990s and now the leading framework in an international reform movement, UDL informs all of our work in educational research and development, capacity building, and professional learning.”

What are some myths about UDL?

In their Blueprint on UDL, Loui Lord Nelson and James Basham share 9 myths that they see in UDL. Have you heard of any of these myths? Check our the full article for how dispel these myths.

  1. It’s about technology
  2. It’s only for students with disabilities
  3. It’s an instructional strategy
  4. It’s what good teachers already do
  5. It’s the same as differentiation
  6. It can only be done for small groups of students
  7. It’s only for certain types of teachers
  8. It’s for specific subject areas
  9. If I’m using a UDL product, I’m doing UDL

How can I get started with using UDL?

Resource: UDL Guidelines website from CAST

  • This website is the mothership of the UDL guidelines
  • Interactive, clear and informative – you’ll learn the basics of the theory and practice of the UDL guidelines

Resource:  CAST’s “Top 5 UDL Tips for Learning Environments

  1. Design space to match the goal
  2. Offer resource areas available to all
  3. Integrate digital resources and materials (book a rapid response consultation!)
  4. Highlight the learning processes in the environment with frequent, formative feedback
  5. Ensure access to target goals in the environment

Resource: UDL Progression Rubric by Katie Novak and Kristen Rodriguez

  • This rubric has three levels of UDL progress and strategies to help you get started

What resources do you recommend for a deep dive?

  • UDL on Campus has UDL information, examples and stories for the higher ed world.
  • CAST, the Center for Applied Special Technology, are the pioneers of UDL.
  • National Center on UDL is affiliated with CAST and has information on UDL basics, advocacy, implementation, research and community.
  • The Universal Design for Learning Implementation Research Network (UDL IRN) is a community dedicated to learning about, creating, and sharing research about UDL implementation. Check out the Higher Ed Special Interest Group!
  • UDL Theory and Practice is a multimedia and paper book with the most current, well, UDL theory and practice research and information. A must read for any UDL-er.