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About UDL

Learn the basics


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Take a Tour was developed by CAST in collaboration with the IDEA Partnership and through the generous support of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Background Information About UDL

Do you want to learn more about UDL? By navigating through the following questions and resources, you can build background knowledge of the UDL framework, learn how to apply UDL to your instructional practice, and make connections between UDL and other frameworks or initiatives.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for teaching and learning that includes proactive planning of curricula (goals, assessments, methods, and materials). Planning with UDL does not assume a one-size-fits-all approach; instead it takes into account the variability of all learners. UDL is based on research from a variety of fields (e.g., education, psychology, and neuroscience), and is organized around three learning networks of the brain: recognition network, strategic network, and affective network.

Graphic of the UDL Guidelines

The UDL framework is based in brain science and focuses on three broad brain networks.

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

What are the origins of UDL? Who developed the UDL framework?

  • In this video, Dr. David Rose discusses how CAST first established the UDL framework: Introduction to UDL
Illustration of the brain with the affective network highlighted in green
Illustration of the brain with the recognition network highlighted in purple
Illustration of the brain with the strategic network highlighted in blue

The 3 broad brain networks align to 3 UDL principles.

What is the goal of UDL?

Graphic of a mountain labeled 'Goals'




Goal of UDL: to build purposeful & motivated, resourceful & knowledgeable, and strategic & goal-directed learners

Why is UDL important?

How do students benefit from instruction that applies the UDL principles?

  • What does UDL teach students about their learning?
    • This article from the Colorado State University Access Center addresses how UDL practices lead to student self-advocacy at the postsecondary level: UDL and student self-advocacy
    • This article from New Horizons for Learning at Johns Hopkins University discusses the value to students of UDL designed courses: New Horizons on UDL
    • These resources help educators to use UDL to develop student self-assessment and reflection skills: National Center on UDL Guideline 9.3 Resources
Graphic of a girl walking on a many-branched path

No single pathway works for every student; learning about UDL helps students make choices about
their own learning.

  • This slide presentation on UDL for students with intensive needs was developed by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI).
  • Dr. Liz Hartmann describes the application of UDL to the instruction of students who are deaf-blind in this National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness brief
  • In this article, Dr. Patti Ralabate presents UDL as a framework that meets the needs of all students, including students with disabilities: Ralabate ASHA Leader

What are the UDL guidelines?

Graphic of the UDL Guidelines

UDL Guidelines

Screenshot of CAST's UDL Bookbuilder

CAST's UDL Bookbuilder

How do I learn more about UDL?

  • Learn more about UDL from the UDL Series hosted by the National Center on UDL: UDL Series

Applying UDL to Practice

How does CAST define curriculum?

Illustration of a rigid building during an earthquake showing cracks  Illustration of a flexible building swaying during an earthquake  Illustration of a base-isolated building moving with an earthquake

Designing a flexible building allows it to remain standing during different conditions, even an earthquake. This analogy can be related to designing flexible learning experiences.

What tools can I use to help me imbed UDL into my curriculum or lessons?

Illustration of educational materials including a computer, a camera, an artist's palette, building blocks, and books

Offer varied and flexible materials and methods.

How do I check my own understanding of UDL?

  • This questionnaire offers immediate feedback based on your UDL implementation choices.
  • The Michigan Integrated Technology Supports (MiTS) project developed these critical elements to guide UDL practice.

Where can I locate tools, ideas, and resources to help me design my instruction?

  • CAST's UDL Exchange is a place where you can browse or build lessons, resources, or collections. The best way to get started with UDL Exchange is to watch the Getting Started video in the upper left hand corner of the home page.
  • UDL Guidelines Version 2.0 Examples and Resources

How can I implement UDL without technology?

  • Watch UDL Unplugged (1.4 minutes): Video
  • Read UDL Unplugged (8 pages): Article

Where does UDL fit in with the discussion on large-scale assessments?

What are examples of using UDL to make decisions outside of lesson development?

Screenshot of UDL Exchange home page

The UDL Exchange tool supports lesson planning with UDL prompts.

Enriching inclusive settings with UDL

Where are classroom examples to support UDL?

  • Learn more about K–6 UDL implementation in these Classroom video examples. Included are—
    • UDL Guidelines in Practice: Grade 3 Math (10 minutes): Video
    • UDL Guidelines in Practice: Grade 5 Language Arts (10 minutes): Video
    • UDL Guidelines in Practice: Grade 6 Science (10 minutes): Video
  • Read and watch videos of district implementation of UDL: A Tale of Four Districts, including districts from Maryland, Indiana, and Massachusetts.
  • Explore UDL information from the BCSC district in Indiana
  • These videos developed by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) offer the perspective of teachers and administrators on UDL implementation.
  • Read an article about UDL for speech–language inclusive classrooms.
  • Explore the web site from Maryland Learning Links that includes UDL background and activities.
  • UDL Guidelines Version 2.0. Click on the hotlinks to see examples and resources connected to each guideline.
Graphic of four students surrounded by educational materials and tools

Classrooms can have options that support all students to reach goals.

What support tools are there for implementing UDL in my classroom, school, and district?

  • UDL Exchange supports lesson development and allows educators to share resources, lessons, and collections.
  • Read about infusing UDL into curriculum, including goals, assessments, materials, and methods.
  • Get ‘how to’ ideas for implementing each checkpoint of the UDL Guidelines.
  • Read research articles that connect to each UDL checkpoint.
  • Use the PALM (Purchase Accessible Learning Materials) Initiative resources to select accessible learning materials and resources.
  • These resources developed by the Ohio Center on Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) provide an overview of how students with intensive support needs within a UDL environment.

What results/outcomes are expected when utilizing UDL?

  • Read about and watch videos from four districts implementing UDL: A Tale of Four Districts
  • Visit the Videos from the Field section of the National Center on UDL web site to view the Superintendent of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana, Dr. John Quick, testifying at the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee about UDL’s impact on school outcomes.
  • For ideas on UDL Implementation: moving beyond awareness of UDL, watch this 17-minute UDL Implementation video.
  • Visit the UDL Implementation Process to gain some ideas.

How can communities of practice influence the implementation of UDL (e.g., student teachers and classroom teachers co-teaching, professional learning communities, co-teaching)?

  • Examples from UDL Exchange (browse for Integrate UDL: Professional Learning Communities)
  • Read the following article about Lisa Parisi's experience co-teaching with UDL.
  • Elizabeth Stein, a collaborative teacher from in Long Neck, NY, addresses UDL in several of her blog posts on MiddleWeb.
  • This co-teaching article provides ideas for how to co-teach and why it is an effective educational model:
  • Become a member of the UDL Connect community to find and share ideas and resources.

Making connections with UDL

What is the difference between Universal Design & UDL?

What is the difference between accessibility and accommodations?

What policies are related to UDL?

UDL and Technology

Graphic depicting four GPS display screens


UDL and Differentiated Instruction

UDL and Common Core

Higher Ed. and UDL

  • UDL On Campus—Resources on this site focus on how UDL can be used to address learner variability in postsecondary education settings in order to help ensure that all students receive a high-quality learning experience and are able to succeed.
  • Visit the Post Secondary Education and UDL page on the National Center for UDL web site to see other post secondary resources.
  • Watch these 5-minute video examples of UDL in Higher Ed., including California State University's Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT), Colorado State, and Tufts University.
  • Learn about UDL in practice and systems change from these examples shared by the University of Vermont.

Last Updated: 07/22/2015

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