Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that outlines teaching and learning with the intention of removing barriers to learning. The guidelines for implementing UDL are based on scientific study of how people learn and are grounded in principles of inclusive pedagogy. For more information on UDL, click on the titles below.

UDL Guidelines

The three guiding principles of UDL include (CAST, 2021):

  1. Multiple means of representation
    1. Ask yourself, “How can I present information in ways that reach all learners?”
  2. Multiple means of action and expression
    1. Ask yourself, “How can I offer purposeful options for students to show what they know?”
  3. Multiple means of engagement
    1. Ask yourself, “How can I engage all students in my class?”

Putting the UDL guidelines into effect involves the following:

  • Conveying course content in a variety of formats
  • Implementing a range of assessment types so learners can demonstrate what they know and what they’ve learned in various ways
  • Applying different methods to motivate learners (e.g. provide choice and autonomy, relevance to learners’ needs and lives, etc.)
Implementing UDL in the Classroom

Implementing UDL in the classroom does not need to be complicated. Below, you will find a list of suggestions for applying Universal Design principles to text, multimedia, and web conferences. The suggestions also align with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for Public Sector organizations.


  • Use a Sans Serif font style (e.g. Helvetica, Arial) that is easy to read. 
  • Offer definitions or supporting text for acronyms.
  • Refrain from using text within an image.
  • Use accessible tables when possible (Learn more about tables in WCAG 2.0 Tables).

Multimedia (Images, Video, and Audio) 

  • Use images to make contextual connections to course content.
  • If critical information is used in an image, make sure it is also represented in an accessible way (e.g. image long description or text underneath the image describing the image).
  • Use videos as a means to teach complex relationships or systems.
  • Choose or create videos that are short in duration or are divided into sections.
  • Choose videos that are available with captions.
  • Use existing podcasts that connect course material to current issues.
  • When applicable, provide background information for audio clips to situate the audio clips in a meaningful context.

Web Conferencing

  • Use live transcription for web conferences and inform learners it is available to them.
  • Provide students with the structure of the webconference and the means of available communication within the system (e.g. raise hand, chat, etc.).
  • “Chunk” your content and delivery time so that students have time to digest the information they are listening to and looking at.

Additional Resources

To discuss some of the ways to apply principles of UDL in your course or for additional UDL resources, reach out to one of the Teaching Commons’ Instructional Developers or Instructional Designers through our Contact Us page

For more information, resources, and support on implementing UDL in the classroom:


CAST (2021). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. http://udlguidelines.cast.org