Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing pathways to meet the diverse needs of all learners, with and without disabilities. Universal design and accessibility work in tandem to ensure success for a wider audience.

  • Universal design addresses how to optimize content delivery and teaching for all students.
  • Accessibility is concerned with making sure that people with specific disabilities have equal access to participation in learning activities and materials.

Key Principles of UDL:

  • Representation:  give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge through multiple content types (e.g. audio, ePub, braille formats).
  • Expression:  provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know (e.g. in-class presentation, video project, research paper).
  • Engagement:  tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.

Tips for UDL and Accessibility Success:

  • Offer various assignment options.
  • Give feedback to students regularly.
  • Provide adaptive content (i.e., Blackboard Ally-generated alternative formats).
  • Run the Blackboard Ally Accessibility Report on your Canvas course and remediate content.
  • Abide by the POUR principles of accessibility:
    • Perceivable: Offer content in alternative formats so that it can be perceived by more than one sense.
    • Operable:  Organize content into a navigable structure using headings, subsections, and bullets and use styling or coding tools to tag these elements so that people using assistive devices can read according to a hierarchy.
    • Understandable:  Use language that is easy to understand, simple and concise. Supplement text with alternative representations of information such as illustrations, video, audio, etc.
    • Robust:  Offer alternative content that will work on older/less advanced technology systems.