Universal Design for Learning (UDL) helps educators create teaching materials and organize classrooms well. Its ideas come from the field of architecture. Why? Accessibility to buildings has been a major concern. So the parallel idea in schools is accessibility to instruction. That’s UDL.

What does it involve? At a basic level, it means that materials, services, and physical settings should welcome all students. At a higher level, it means making sure that all students get full access to the same excellent curriculum.

Making sure that educators use UDL to provide accessibility to instruction is a high bar, and many districts and schools don’t reach it. But many strive toward it.

The illustration below focuses on the three rules of UDL. First, represent content in multiple ways. Second, let students show what they learn in many ways. And third, connect new content to students’ interests, prior knowledge, and life experiences. You can see that using UDL is a huge change for some schools.

instruction unit2 overview