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Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Universal Design for Learning

What is UDL?

UDL (Universal Design for Learning) mirrors the universal design movement in architecture and product development, which calls for designs that serve the greatest number of possible users right from the start.

UDL is an educational approach with three primary principles: 

  • Multiple means of representation give diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Multiple means of action and expression provide learners options for demonstrating what they know,
  • Multiple means of engagement tap into learners' interests, offer challenges, increase motivation
  • (Source: http://www.cast.org/research/index.html)

What UDL is not

Although it shares concepts and principles with them all, UDL is different from:

  • Assisted technology
  • Accomodation of disabilities
  • Learning styles
  • Multiples intelligences

Accessibility and UDI

Universal Design for Learning DiagramUniversal Design for Learning is an educational approach to teaching, learning, and assessment; drawing on new brain research and new media technologies to respond to individual learner differences.  UDL incorporates accessibility into the design of materials and courses, making it accessible and usable for everyone from the start.  Olympic College is committed to equal access to its educational and administrative services, programs, and activities. 

3 minute UDL Video

UDL favors multiple means of expression.  Here's basic information expressed in video.

Why is UDL important?

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D. from the University of Washington describes the need for UDL this way:

"Precollege and college students come from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. For some, English is not their first language. Also represented in most classes are students with a diversity of ages and learning styles, including visual and auditory. In addition, increasing numbers of students with disabilities are included in regular precollege and postsecondary courses. Their disabilities include blindness, low vision, hearing impairments, mobility impairments, learning disabilities, and health impairments.

Students are in school to learn and instructors share this goal. How can educators design instruction to maximize the learning of all students? The field of universal design (UD) can provide a starting point for developing a framework for instruction. You can apply this body of knowledge to create courses that ensure lectures, discussions, visual aids, videos, printed materials, labs, and fieldwork are accessible to all students."

For the whole report, Click.