Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing educational materials and environments. Its fundamental principles come from the field of architecture, where accessibility to buildings is a major concern. For teachers, paraprofessionals, and other educators, educational accessibility is the parallel concern.
What does educational accessibility involve? At the very minimum level of responsiveness, accessibility involves making educational materials, services, and environments available to all students. As an educational goal—a much higher level of responsiveness, accessibility involves modifying educational materials, services, and environments so that all students receive a high-quality general-education curriculum. It’s a high bar, and many districts and schools don’t reach it. But many strive toward it.
The illustration below focuses on the three strategies for UDL: (1) represent content in multiple ways; (2) give students alternative paths for showing you what they’ve learned; and (3) draw students into learning by connecting new knowledge to their interests, prior knowledge, and life experiences.