Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning, Universal Design for Education, and Universal Design for Instruction are learning design approaches that recognise there is no ‘average’ learner. Learners come with a wide variety of prior experiences, abilities, preferences and needs.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) developed by CAST as well as Universal Design for Education (UDE) and Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) both developed by Sheryl Burgstahler at DO-IT, University of Washington are the most commonly cited frameworks.
Universal Design when applied to learning design enables inclusive curriculum design, development and delivery. It embraces learner variability, designs for it and reduces barriers to learning; creating a greater sense of belonging.
Some of these UDL resources were developed as part of a Department of Education strategic grant 'Advancing UDL in Tertiary Education’ project. The key focus for the activities for this project ran from April to October 2023.
A range of resources including podcasts, webinars, checklists and templates and case studies are available to support and improve your Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practice.
Accessibility focuses on removing specific barriers for people with disability, while usability focuses on meeting a wide range of needs and preferences. Improving accessibility often improves usability as well. Accessibility checkers are tools that can help designers create accessible and usable learning materials.
A range of free and fee-paying professional learning opportunities about UDL are available. Some are simple introductory online courses, while others require a more significant commitment with assessment requirements. Continuous professional learning allows you to build on what you already know, and the more you learn, the more you and your learners will benefit.
Professional networking and collegial conversations are a great way to inform and improve your UDL practice. There are a number of ways for you to get involved in these professional conversations.
ADCET's UDL Symposium, UDL In Action: the what, the why and the how of UDL, was held in September 2023 and brought together experts, practitioners, researchers, and advocates from diverse fields to explore the latest developments in Universal Design for Learning.