Universal Design for Learning

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STEM lab participants practice UDL by expressing their learning through drawings and captions. A woman with long black hair, wearing glasses and a green t-shirt is making a drawing of a technology tool on a large sheet of paper in a tinker space with big wooden tables. Her peer is watching her. (This photo caption is an example of UDL on a website, Captions play an important role so that people who use assistive technology can “see” what an image regardless of their visual abilities. It is a critically important aspect of making websites accessible for ALL and often forgotten.)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a flexible educational framework for designing instructional methods, materials, spaces and activities in an effort to provide equal access for all learners with varying abilities and backgrounds.

How does technology connect to UDL?
Technology supports the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). A learner who is too young to begin spelling and typing words or has a learning disability may find that using speech-to-text is a platform to best express themselves. Professionals with young children can use technology and principles of UDL to create materials for students. Using icons and symbols to describe words, as well as QR codes to connect audio and videos to a document provides learners, including adults, multiple modes of representation to access information and learning opportunities. Similarly, UDL gives professionals the chance to connect with Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and their parents when UDL principles are used to design home-to-school connection materials. Using UDL with DLLs could include sending home a newsletter that is offered in multiple languages (including the home language), universal visual representations, QR codes to videos with multiple language captions, and text-to-speech translation.

Our handout about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) describes the “what, why, and how” of teaching and learning. Explore the examples of how principles of UDL can be used in a variety of settings, including classrooms, museums, libraries, daycares, with children and adults.

Here are some videos showing why UDL matters for ALL learners and what it looks like in practice: