Universal Design for Learning: A Practical Guide
Section 3.1: What is UDL?
Universal Design for Learning is a curriculum design, development, and delivery framework. It was created to support the accessibility of course content and materials and to sustain the development of expert learners. It grew out of the concept of Universal Design (UD) which was applied to physical spaces (Goldsmith, 1963) to make them spacious, accessible, navigable, and flexible in their use. In the same way that fully enclosed bathroom stalls containing a toilet, sink, and shelf can support wheelchair use, room for potty-training toddlers, privacy, quiet spaces for the introverted, and a place anyone can put most stuff so it doesn’t fall in the toilet, the L in UDL seeks to apply the same flexibility to the learning environment.
UDL has been developed from research on:
- Reading and Language Acquisition
- Social Learning Theory
- Higher Order Thinking
- Deep Learning
According to SET-BC, an adopter of UDL in K-12, “UDL provides a framework for addressing the diversity of learners in our classrooms. Rather than individually adapting for each student’s needs, teachers create student-focused environments by designing curriculum that is accessible to a wide range of learners. This systematic approach removes learning barriers by clarifying learning intentions and providing flexible instructional environments.”