What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

The central practical premise of UDL is that a curriculum should include alternatives to make it accessible and appropriate for individuals with different -
  • backgrounds,
  • learning styles,
  • abilities, and
  • disabilities
in widely varied learning contexts. In a sense, you are differentiating your lesson and learning without a focus on just one student, but setting up options for all students.

The “universal” in universal design does not imply one optimal solution for everyone. Rather it reflects an awareness of the unique nature of each learner and the need to accommodate differences, creating learning experiences that suit the learner and maximize his or her ability to progress. Many students may benefit from your "advance" thinking about provisions in the classroom. Though a student may not have an identified disability requiring an accommodation (as a student with an IEP), the options allowed through a universally designed classroom may support learning differences that lead to greater productivity, achievement, and success.

UDL provides a framework that helps teachers differentiate their instruction through carefully articulated goals and individualized materials, methods, and assessments.

The UDL framework supports learning in this way...
Multiple Means of
Multiple Means of
Multiple Means of
Action & Expression
Affective network -
the why of learning
utilizes the part of the brain...
- where our interests have been
challenged that
in a way we are motivated to learn
Recognition network -
the what of learning
utilizes the part of the brain...
- where we take in information using various
means of presentation
Strategic network -
the how of learning
utilizes the part of the brain...
- where we plan and demonstrate what we've learned
Stimulate interest and motivation for learning
Present information and content in different ways
Differentiate the ways that students can express
what they know

UDL and the General Curriculum

UDL at a Glance U

Visit the National Center on Universal Design for Learning Implementation page for resources to use in the classroom. http://www.udlcenter.org/implementation/examples

UDL in the Classroom

****UDL Wheel****
Free UDL iPhone/iPad app
A guide to Universal Design in the form of an interactive wheel on the web from the Maryland State Dept.of Education and Howard County Public Schools.
A product of the College and Career Readiness Support Project in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education
UDL Tool Finder on the Montgomery County Schools, Maryland, website

UDL Tool Finder

Universal Design for Learning Educator's Checklist

Universal Design for Learning Graphic Organizer

Danielson's Framework for Teaching identifies "good teaching practices" to promote student success.

CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)
CAST is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through Universal Design for Learning.

Founded in 1984 as the Center for Applied Special Technology, CAST has earned international recognition for its innovative contributions to educational products, classroom practices, and policies. Its staff includes specialists in education research and policy, neuropsychology, clinical/school psychology, technology, engineering, curriculum development, K-12 professional development, and more.

CAST Professional Learning
Visit this portion of the CAST website to access UDL focused professional learning, provided by CAST.

Interactive Activity
Found on the Loudoun County Public Schools (Ashburn, VA) website, though it is represented as originating from an outside source (Maryland Learning Links), this interactive exploration is an example of UDL in action (multiple means of presentation!)

A fun way to pack information on a single page to further your understanding of UDL. Rest your cursor on the page to activate the dots. Rest your cursor on a dot for information - click the dot for more information.

Visit http://www.udlcenter.org/ for more information.

What is Special About Special Education?

Access this Technical Assistance Paper (TAP), provided by FLDOE, to read about specially designed instruction.

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS)

NIMAS guides the production of digital versions of textbooks and related instructional materials so they can be more easily converted to accessible formats, including Braille and text-to-speech.

National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials

Discover the resources available on the AIM website

Watch this short video for a brief introduction to AIM.

AIM Navigator

Access the AIM Navigator site to assist in the determination of appropriate AT tools and supports. This page provides the background, access to the online tool is on the right of the page.

Technology for All Learners PowerPoint

Pasco UDL ppt

Additional UDL videos on the CAST.org website:

UDL Wiki:
UDL Toolkit - Great resource incorporating Glogster http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/

Add Discussion