The Beginnings of Universal Design
The concept of universal design originated with the design of
buildings and other products. Universal design takes into
consideration the people who will be using the product or building
during the planning stages. The product or environment will then
be designed so that adaptations will not be needed.
An example of universal design
would be a ramp on a building.
When an architect designs a building,
they need to consider people who may
not be able to use stairs and must include
an alternative method to enter the building.
Universal Design and Education
Education is the perfect place for
universal design. It involves taking
all the information we have gathered
about our students and using it to
design lessons, units, and curriculum.
Universal Design for Learning, or
UDL, is the perfect tool to
The Principles of UDL
Provide multiple means of
Provide multiple means of action and
Provide multiple means of engagement
Source: Rose, D., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in
the digital age: Universal design for learning. Retrieved from
Multiple Means of Representation
What materials are we giving our students? Are all of
our students able to understand them?
Provide a variety of materials: text, video, graphic
organizers, virtual field trips
Provide students with a variety of ways to learn
vocabulary, text structure
Provide students with background information, and
activate prior knowledge.
Provide options for understanding key concepts
Multiple Means of Action & Expression
Are our students actively engaged in their learning?
Provide opportunities for action during the lesson.
Provide for tools to assist in problem solving or
Provide students with the opportunity to set own
Multiple Means of Engagement
Are our students motivated to learn?
Provide activities which let students make choices.
Provide a variety of activities which challenge or
support a student.
Provide activities which allow for group collaboration.
Provide students with the opportunity to reflect on
Recent brain research outlines three networks in the
Recognition : Identifies and recognizes patterns in
words, sounds, smells
Strategic : Generates the activities of body. Allows for
expression and planning.
Affective : Evaluates and prioritizes.
Source: Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009).
Brain research and universal design for learning. Reaching and
engaging all learners through technology. Baltimore: Author.
UDL and Brain Research
The principles of UDL directly coincide with the 3
networks of our brain.
Since UDL calls for a variety of methods to meet
student needs, it allows for the individual network
differences in our students.
For example, an ELL student would have difficulty
with the recognition network because they are
learning the English language. UDL allows for this
need by providing alternative ways to read the
material. This could include listening to the text.
Technology and UDL
Today’s technology tools will allow for the implementation of the
Universal Design for Learning principles.
Text to talk programs: allow for students to hear a text
Web 2.0 Tools: Wiki’s, Blogs
Digital storytelling, PowerPoints
Check out this site for FREE technology tools to implement UDL:
Each of these tools allow for the differences in each student and
will support your efforts to create lessons to the UDL principles.
UDL and Parkway Manor
How will Parkway Manor benefit from
Universal Design for Learning?
Improvement in student motivation
Improvement in all assessment scores
Improvement in attendance
Improve the self-esteem and
confidence of our students
The following web site has many different tools to assist
you with UDL:
Here’s an overview of 3 resources:
Class Profile Template and Tutorial: This template
allows you to take notes on your class according to
the brain networks. The tutorial shows how to set up
the template and use the information to design
lessons that match the UDL principles.
Videos of sample lessons: This resource is fabulous
and helps you see how to incorporate UDL into all
your lesson plans.
Lesson Builder: Allows you to create and store
lessons using the UDL principles.
Each of these resources will allow you to effectively
create lessons around the UDL principles.
CAST,Teaching Every Student. (2010). Tools and activities.
Retreived from http://cast.org/teachingeverystudent/tools .
Center for Applied Special Technology. (2009). UDL guidelines version 1.0
Retrieved from http://udlcenter.org .
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Brain research and universal
design for learning. Reaching and engaging all learners through technology.
Rose, D., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal
design for learning. Retrieved from