Universal Design for Learning is a philosophy
and approach for learning that stems from the
needs and design of our students on an
individual basis. Individuality is a key learning
theme that has been enlightening teaching
methodology. This innovative teaching
approach delivers a curriculum that is meant
for all students, as opposed to only some or
UDL is an educational approach that avoids learning
barriers for students and celebrates individualized
learning through a series of styles.
UDL is an ideal tool for promoting differentiated
instruction by meeting the needs of all students
through flexible methods, varied instructional
resources, and various teaching strategies.
UDL creates multiple avenues to teach and engage
students with the use of technology, thereby
developing much needed 21st Century Skills
Disengaged or Inattentive Learners
Students with Language Barriers or Deficits
Developmentally Delayed Students
Students with Single and Multiple Learning Disabilities
Students with Behavioral and/or Emotional Disabilities
Students with Sensory or Physical Disabilities
1. Provide multiple means of representation:
give diverse learners options for attaining
information and knowledge
2. Provide multiple means of action and
expression: give learners opportunities for
demonstrating what they know
3. Provide multiple means of engagement:
tap into learners' interests, offer fitting
challenges, and raise motivation
Provide options for perception.
Provide options for language and symbols.
Provide options for comprehension.
Provide options for physical action.
Provide options for expressive skills and
Provide options for executive functions.
Provide options for recruiting interest.
Provide options for sustaining effort and
Provide options for self-regulation.
Provide instructions both verbally and visually.
~Will assist students with cognitive deficits, ADD/ADHD, &
language barriers or deficits.
Provide digital equivalents of all hardcopy handouts.
~Allows students with visual and auditory, language, and
cognitive deficits to review at any size and/or use Text to
Speech for listening.
Present information in a multiple formats, including
text, graphics, audio, and video.
~Addresses different learning styles as well as varying
physical & cognitive abilities.
Record Lessons and Make the Recording Available to All
~The internet allows many tools like Podcasts and Wikis that give
teachers opportunities to create flexible and reviewable lessons.
Sort information into two categories: need-to-know
(essential) and nice-to-know (important, but not
~There are lots of things to remember. Don’t overload, yet give
opportunities to learn content on deeper levels. Clarify these
variations to your students. Keep it simple……… This will meet
the needs of everyone from the class genius to the struggling
Allow Student Input for Practice & Assessment
~Motivate all students & allow discovery through their own
learning styles and creative outlets.
Brain research has unwrapped many details that explain a larger picture
about the human learning process.
CAST is a nonprofit research and development organization working to
increase learning opportunities for all students, especially those with
disabilities, through the Universal Design for Learning.
Founded in 1984 as the Center for Applied Special Technology, CAST is
credited with world recognition for its pioneering contributions to
educational materials, classroom practices, and policies. Its team
includes specialists in education research and policy, neuropsychology,
clinical/school psychology, technology, engineering, curriculum
development, K-12 professional development, and more. (CAST, 2010)
CAST explains, “The UDL Guidelines are based on research from several
very different fields, and from many different researchers at many
different universities and research organizations. That research has
been reviewed, compiled and organized by educators and researchers
at CAST. The process spanned a 10 year period and involved several
different stages” (2010).
There are three ways that the mind retains and uses knowledge.
The three ways categorize learning and thinking as developed
through recognition, strategic, and affective.
1. Recognition is the mind’s ability to recognize patterns of
sound, imagery, scent, touch, and taste (Laureate, 2009).
2. Strategic is the mind’s processing and management of those
patterns as well as developing ideas, actions, or plans
3. Affective is the affect of social and emotional factors on the
mind (Laureate, 2009). Each aspect is vital in the development
of the mind and therefore educators should teach through
those thought factors as a group.
The use of technology is a driving force in the UDL approach.
Technology allows for opportunities in the following areas:
Program modifications (assistive technologies)
Creative practice & processing
Flexible venues for lessons
Community learning & social networking
Virtual experiences, museums, & tours
Students’ personal needs will be met.
The multiple avenues & flexibility
UDL provides lead to support given
to students with focus towards
cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and
There are a number of valuable tools regarding the UDL
approach available at http://www.cast.org/.
Research & Development: to learn about the professional
success and future of this approach
Publications: information and access to featured CAST
Learning Tools: to learn about some of the tools and
materials available to educators that are centered in the
UDL approach, along with reviews form teachers, students,
Professional Development: provided to explain institutes,
workshops, and various other opportunities to help us
develop our school’s approach toward higher education
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer).(2009).
Reaching and engaging all learners through technology.
The Center for Leadership in Education
Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL
National Center on Universal Design for Learning