Universal Design for Learning (UDL) General Resource - Review and consider possibilities

Last updated on 04/10/2023

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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


Universal design involves ‘the design and composition of an environment so that it may be accessed, understood and used’ (Centre for Excellence in Universal Design 2014). UDL focuses on the attainment of access for all across learning environments.



Universal Design (UD) & Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

The higher level concept of Universal Design was developed to respond to people with diverse abilities and needs.  ‘Universal Design does not imply "one size fits all" but rather acknowledges the need for alternatives to suit many different people's needs'. (Rose 2000 p. 67). Creating an environment which is more equitable benefits all people.

Universal Design (UD) involves 7 design principles:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

The three (3) Principles of (UDL)

UDL is a framework for how to develop learning environment, activities and assessments based on three main principles:

  • Representation: UDL recommends offering information in more than one format. For example, textbooks are primarily visual. But providing text, audio, video and hands-on learning gives all a chance to access the material in whichever way is best suited to their learning context.
  • Action and expression: UDL suggests giving students more than one way to interact with the material and to show what they’ve learned. For example, students might get to choose between taking a pencil-and-paper test, giving an oral presentation or doing a group project.
  • Engagement: UDL encourages educators to look for multiple ways to motivate students. Letting students make choices and giving them assignments that feel relevant to their lives are some examples of how teachers can sustain students’ interest. Other common strategies include making skillbuilding feel like a game and creating opportunities for students to get up and move around the classroom.

Find out more at http://udlguidelines.cast.org/more/frequently-asked-questions


UDL guidelines advise providing learners with multiple means and options for Engagement (recruiting interest, sustaining effort and persistence, self regulation), Representation (perception, language & symbols, comprehension) and Action & Expression (physical action, expression & communication, executive functions).

The Representation aspect of universal design has also been incorporated into multimedia learning theory (Mayer 2001). This theory holds that there are 12 principles that help people in processing information from multimedia material such as lecture slides and videos.

Enabling Technology



7 Ways to Introduce UDL into your Classroom at Griffith

UDL doesn't have to be hard!  There are some simple ways you can ensure our students are geting the best from our learning environments. 

Here are some examples:

  1. Know your students' strengths and weaknesses.
    • eg. Regular feedback loops, goal-setting, using analytics or polling in class to discover weak areas for review
  2. Use digital materials when possible.
  3. Share content in a variety of ways.
    • Blackboard Ally (Learning@Griffith) automatically provides alternative formats in your Course for Students
    • Provide an alternative video for any textual information where possible, especially for 'foundation concepts'
  4. Offer choices for how students demonstrate their knowledge.
    • eg. Offer alternative assignment options eg. Podcast or video?
  5. Take advantage of software support.
    • enacting automated captioning where available
    • enacting Blackboard Ally (Learning@Griffith)
    • using Microsoft Accessibility and Study tools (dictation, magnifiers, note-taking).
  6. Low and No Tech options do exist.
    • eg. making learning spaces flexible and utilising that for active and collaborative learning in small or large groups.
  7. Learn from others

(Adapted from Text Edit)

Support Resources

Contributed by

  • Learning Futures


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Preferred Citation

Learning Futures (2023). Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/8388/view