Multiple means of representation, expression and engagement are ways of differentiating instruction. It is at the heart of good teaching and evaluation. Again, multiple ways of doing things makes it possible to accommodate a wide range of ability.

The following are the principles of universal design that were originally developed in the 1970’s  applied to learning environments and your course (Burgstahler & Cory, 2008; Modified by ICATER, 2009).

  • Equitable Use 
    • The course, its location, its content and practices are accessible to people of diverse ability
  • Flexibility in use
    • The course can be adapted to a wide range of individual preferences
  • Simple and intuitive to use
    • This best applies to class products in that all are easy to access and use with limited instruction
  • Perceptible information
    • All text used in class presentations is large enough, legible, and has enough contrast to the background to be accessed by every student
    • All information presented in an audio manner can be heard by everyone in class
    • Affordances, or properties of objects that suggest how they work must be clear (think of door handles–do they suggest pushing, pulling or twisting; is the arrangement of wall switches mapped to their actual location so you know which switch controls which light or the screen or the projection system?)
  • Tolerance for error
    • More than one way to do it and easy recovery from a failed attempt. This is the basis for having multiple means of representing content, instructional delivery and assessment. A related concept is having many ways to recover from an error or mistake.
    • Proper guidance is given when errors are made
  • Low physical effort
    • Manipulative or other tools used in class are large enough and easily manipulated by everyone in class
    • Lab equipment used can be easily manipulated by everyone, including students with physical disabilities
  • Size and space of appropriate use
    • Leave room for all manner of getting around. Getting in and out of a room is important.
    • Consider whether there is enough space between fixed-position lab stations to navigate a wheelchair and whether the height of a work area is adjustable.

Implementing UDL

  • Step 1: Identify the course

  • Step 2: Define the universe

  • Step 3: Involve students

  • Step 4: Adopt instructional strategies

  • Step 5: Apply instructional strategies

  • Step 6: Build in accommodations

  • Step 7: Evaluate