What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

The UDL guidelines are: 1) Multiple Means of Engagement, 2) Multiple Means of Representation, and 3) Multiple Means of Action and Expression. In other words, UDL guides instructors to 1) use a variety of ways to motivate students, 2) communicate course content in various formats, and 3) use various types of assessment so students can show what they know. To learn more about the science behind the framework visit the cast.org website.

Why Should I Use UDL?

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework was developed by David Rose, Anne Meyer, and colleagues at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). This framework stemmed from the original goal of exploring how technology could be used to enhance education for students with disabilities. Over the years, Meyer and Rose have further refined UDL based on cognitive neuroscience research on how the brain learns.

How Can I Begin to Use UDL?

Good teaching involves considering the strengths and needs of all learners. There is no such thing as an “average learner”:  students learn and process information in different ways. By using teaching strategies that reflect the principles of universal design (UD), instructors can aim to support all learners. The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence has fantastic resources for UDL teaching and design. One inclusive teaching practice involves using accessible instructional methods.

For example:

Reduce the unnecessary barriers related to students’ ability to perceive and understand information.

  • Wear a microphone in classrooms that seat 25 or more students. Classrooms with background noise from projector fans or heating and cooling systems make it challenging – exhausting, even – for students to listen attentively, especially for students who have difficulty hearing or processing what they hear. Even if you think you have a loud voice, avoid making assumptions about how well others can hear you.
  • Always repeat a student’s comment or question into the microphone before responding so that all students can hear the context for your response.
  • Face the class when speaking and speak as clearly as possible. Many students learn best when they see their instructor’s mouth and facial expressions….

To read more about UDL instructional strategies visit this Universal Design: Instructional Strategies Teaching Tips resource.

…See you next week for a new tip!


Attribution Statement:  This resource was adapted from

What is Universal Design? | Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. (2019). Retrieved 7 July 2022, from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses-and-assignments/what-universal-design CC-BY-SA 4.0

Universal Design: Instructional Strategies | Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. (2019). Retrieved 7 July 2022, from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses-and-assignments/universal-design-instructional-strategies CC-BY-SA 4.0





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