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.

Whereas 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. The two work in tandem to ensure access for a wider audience.

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 BeachBoard 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.