Background Images

Annotated Bibliography

Black, R. D., Weinberg, L. A., & Brodwin, M. G. (2015). Universal design for learning and instruction: Perspectives of students with disabilities in higher education. Exceptionality Education International25(2), 1-16.

  • Students with disabilities who are enrolled in higher education studies continue to experience challenges and barriers to their education, including inaccessible course content and materials, and missing accommodations or a delay in receiving accommodations. In building universally designed courses, accessible content and accommodations would be built in to the learning environment, reducing or eliminating the need for accommodation requests.
  • This study looked at the perspectives of students with and without disabilities on the teaching methods and strategies that they found useful and how these aligned to the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Universal Design for Instruction (UDI). Each of the 18 participating students were individually interviewed. Their responses were analyzed and the trends that emerged, indicated what teaching and learning strategies were useful and what barriers exist. The responses indicated that the applications of UDL/UDI principles to higher education can create courses that are more inclusive and benefit student with and without disabilities.

Tags: UDI, Design - Learning Outcomes, Development - Activities, Delivery - Communication, Delivery - Feedback


Boskic, N., Starcher, K., Kelly, K., & Hapke, N. (2008). Accessibility and universal design. In S. Hirtz & D. G. Harper (Eds.), Education for a digital world: Advice, guidelines, and effective practice from around the globe (pp. 143-180). Vancouver, British Columbia: Commonwealth of Learning.

  • This chapter of Education for a Digital World is dedicated to accessibility and Universal Design in higher education digital environments. It provides an overview of accessibility at higher education institutions, looking at legislation as well as an examination of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and web accessibility practices. In providing examples of UDL practices applicable to the online environment, the authors indicate the importance of clear directions, the availability of multiple mediums and testing the technology used for accessibility.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments, Development - Assessments, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Burgstahler, S. (2015). Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, principles, guidelines, and examples. Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/doit/sites/default/files/atoms/files/UD_Instruction_05_26_15.pdf

  • This article provides a brief examination of the principles of Universal Design (UD) and Universal Design for Instruction (UDI). The author presents each of the principles of UD accompanied by an example of its application related to educational products or environments. The principles of UDI are given along with instructional examples. The author acknowledges that some accommodations may still be required in certain cases, but promotes the application of Universal Design and Universal Design for Instruction as methods of increasing accessibility.

Tags: UDI, Delivery - Communication, Delivery - Feedback


Carter, I., Leslie, D, & Kwan, D. (2012). Applying universal instructional design to course websites by using course evaluations. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching5, 119-125.

  • In this study, student end-of-course evaluation surveys were enhanced with questions to evaluate student views of accessibility within the courses. Student responses indicated that course environments that had been built using the Universal Instructional Design (UID) principles and Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act (AODA) accessibility standards were seen as aligning with accessibility guidelines, but suggested barriers were still encountered in communications, ease of use and adaptability of technology. The report does not denote if all or some of the UID principles were applied in each course, if the instructors had formal training in accessibility or UID, or how these principles were incorporated into their courses. The questions posed in the course evaluations were reflective of UID principles, accessibility guidelines and AODA standards, future studies could include areas for student input/feedback on the accessibility and usefulness of specific examples of UID implementation within a course.

Tags: UID, Evaluation - Throughout Offering


Center for Applied Special Technology. (CAST). (n.d.-a). UDL syllabus. UDL On Campus. Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/planning_syllabus#.WFvbzFMrLRY

  • To support the development of a course syllabus, this resource presents examples of syllabus sections that conform to principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Tags: UDL, Design - Syllabus, Development - Materials


Center for Applied Special Technology. (CAST). (n.d.-b). Top 10 UDL tips for developing learning goals. Retrieved from http://castprofessionallearning.org/project/free-top-10-udl-tips-for-developing-learning-goals/

  • Developed by CAST, this resource offers instructors 10 tips for developing course learning outcomes that reflect the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The CAST Professional Learning site is an educational source for instructors, administrators and organizations looking to enhancing their understanding of UDL.

Tags: UDL, Design - Learning Outcomes


Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (n.d.-c). UDL and assessment. UDL On Campus. Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/assessment_udl#.WFvyvFMrLRY

  • This resource examines the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in relation to assessments within a course. UDL principles can be considered and applied to assessments to identify and address challenges and barriers, as well as in support of the varied learning styles learners bring to the classroom.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (n.d.-d) Top 10 UDL Tips for Assessment. Retrieved from http://castprofessionallearning.org/project/top-10-udl-tips-for-assessment/

  • This CAST resource offers instructors 10 tips for developing and designing assessments while considering Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. The tips presented in this resource can help instructors, administrators and organizations looking to build and incorporate accessible, barrier free assessments into their online courses.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments


Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (n.d.-e). Executive functioning in online environments. UDL On Campus. Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/teach_executive#.WA-CDS0rLcu

  • "Executive functioning skills are those that are involved in goal setting, planning, organization, and applying strategies to achieve goals" (Review, para.1). In the traditional face-to-face classroom learners with executive function challenges experience support through direct and indirect contact with the instructor, classroom discussions, and peer sharing of strategies and experiences. This article uses an example situation to highlight the difficulties that may be encountered by an individual with executive function challenges and outlines strategies which can be applied to the online learning environment to support executive function challenges. Checklists, self-checks, feedback, and engaging activities are highlighted as methods to support executive functions in the online environment.

Tags: UDL, Development - Activities, Delivery - Communication, Delivery - Feedback


Coombs, N. (2010). Making online teaching accessible: Inclusive course design for students with disabilities. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

  • The focus of this resource guide is on teaching and designing an inclusive online course to make information accessible to all learners regardless of ability. This book touches on various aspects related to course accessibility and inclusion including legislation in the United States, and how Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) apply to the online educational environment. Additionally, practical tips to support the selection, creation and delivery of accessible content in a variety of formats are provided.

Tags: UDL, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Croasdaile, S. S., Angel, R., Carr, E., Hudson, L., & Usrey, C. (2012). Using blogs to overcome the challenges of a research methods course. In Pixy Ferris, S. (Ed.), Teaching, learning, and the net generation concepts and tools for reaching digital learners (pp. 190-212).Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global.

  • This article reviews the use of blogs in a graduate course that utilized the principles of Universal Design for Learning. The instructor for the course (the primary author) and the co-authors (students) reviewed blog postings and identified key elements of the blogs that supported student learning. Clear learning goals identified in a universally designed course indicate what students must learn, but do not dictate how. In the case of this graduate course, the flexibility allows students to blog in a format they find best suits their own learning style (i.e., a formal or informal voice and choice of content medium). The use of blog prompts encouraged learner engagement, promoted self-reflection and allowed for timely instructor feedback. Feedback was identified as a critical part of the student learning process, with learners better able to understand their progress towards the course learning outcomes.

Tags: UDL, Development - Activities, Delivery - Feedback


Davies, P. L., Schelly, C. L., & Spooner, C. L. (2013). Measuring the effectiveness of universal design for learning intervention in postsecondary education. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability26(3), 195-220.

  • This articles looks at the effectiveness of instructor training in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as seen through student evaluations. This analysis uses a control group of students who are enrolled in a course with an instructor who does not receive training in UDL principles and an intervention group of students who are enrolled in the same course with an instructor who does receive UDL training. The analysis of evaluation responses indicates UDL training increases the implementation of those principles in instruction and an improvement in student experience, most significantly noted for the increased modes of representation. Both student groups indicated an improvement in engagement, potentially related to the development of teaching and learning strategies as the course progresses.

Tags: UDL, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Dawson, T. & Keenan, L. (Eds.). (2009). Universal instructional design: Creating an accessible curriculum at the University of Victoria. Victoria, British Columbia: First Choice Books.

  • Building on similar works from the University of Toronto at Scarborough, this publication has been created for faculty, instructors and course designers at the University of Victoria to support their efforts in inclusion through Universal Instructional Design (UID).

Tags: UID, Design - Syllabus, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Dell, C. A., Dell, T. F., & Blackwell, T. L. (2015). Applying universal design for learning in online courses: Pedagogical and practical considerations. The Journal of Educations Online13(2), 166-192.

  • This article looks at the implementation of the three Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in an online course environment that made use of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Ten Simple Steps Toward Universal Design of Online Classes. Faculty can utilize these guidelines to evaluate the flexibility and accessibility of their course content and materials. Using the suggestions and recommendations to reduce barriers will make access easier for all learners.

Tags: UDL, Design - Syllabus, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence, Delivery - Communication


DeLong, R. (2008). Writing assignments and universal design for instruction: Making the phantom visible. In J. L. Higbee & E. Goff (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education (pp. 131-136). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

  • This chapter of Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education examines five principles of Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) and their relation to writing assignments in the university environment. The author has directed this chapter towards faculty, instructors and teaching assistants that assign and assess writing, but it can also be utilized by others, including instructional designers, student advisers and administrators.
  • Vague assignment instructions prevent students from doing excellent work. Particularly at risk are learners who may miss unspoken cues or values of an instructor. By presenting a clear assignment using an assignment sheet and grading rubric, students are given an outline of exactly what the instructor wants and expects. To reinforce the importance of the values and expectations of the instructor, as well as foster a learning community, peer editing or rough drafts can be built into the course. Breaking a large assignment into sections or drafts also helps motivate students to work towards smaller goals to complete the bigger task.

Tags: UDI, Development - Assessments, Development - Activities


Disability Resources and Services - Temple University. (n.d.) Universal design for learning (UDL): The challenge of inclusive higher education in the 21st century. Retrieved from http://disabilityresources.temple.edu/universal-design-learning-udl

  • In this resource, Temple University encourages its faculty members to adhere to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in their courses. They highlight and discuss three key characteristics of a universally designed course - clear learning outcomes, flexibility and choice, and accessibility. By creating universally designed courses students are held to the standards society expects of post-secondary graduates, but benefits from an inclusive learning environment that is rich in opportunities.

Tags: UDL, Design - Learning Outcomes


Dukes III, L. L., Koorland, M. A. & Scott, S. S. (2009). Making blended instruction better: Integrating the principles of universal design for instruction into course design and delivery. Action in Teacher Education31(1), 38-48.

  • Fully online learning and blended learning, a combination of online and traditional face-to-face instruction, are growing trends in postsecondary settings. The flexibility of offering types is appealing to an increasingly diverse student body. In recognizing this trend and the diversity of their students, higher education institutions must plan for the implementation of inclusive teaching. Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) is an instructional model that can assist in the development and implementation of curriculum that addresses the needs of a diverse population.
  • Dukes, Koorland, and Scott discuss the combination of UDI principles and practices with blended learning environments, as an opportunity to proactively consider the diversity of learners and build an inclusive course. Each of the 9 UDI principles are examined and the authors provide instructional examples from their own blended course offerings.

Tags: UDI, Design - Syllabus, Development - Assessments, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Elias, T. (2010). Universal instructional design principles for Moodle. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning11(2), 110-124.

  • Distance Education learners may face a variety of challenges unique to their own situations, be that geographical distance, technical skills and connectivity, schedules and commitments, or disability. Universal Instructional Design (UID) principles can be applied to distance learning to increase the learner's level of access. Open source learning management systems may have standardized features or customizations that can be implemented by instructional designers or instructors to build courses that meet the needs of a wide variety of learners.
  • This study generated 40 categories of online accessibility using the principles of Universal Instructional Design (UID), literature, and product reviews. It examines the learning management system in one sample graduate course for its level of accessibility in each category. Seventy-nine percent of Moodle's features and modules were identified as having the potential to enhance accessibility of an online course. These assessments were based on the summaries and descriptions of the modules available. Not all of these features and modules were available at an institutional level and the examination of the graduate course found only 26% of the accessibility categories integrated into the course. Pedagogical and technological recommendations for improved accessibility using the principles of UID are given to inform the improvement of course design and learning management systems.

Tags: UID, Delivery - Communication, Delivery - Feedback


Elias, T. (2011). Universal instructional design principles for mobile learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning12(2), 110-124.

  • Mobile devices, including smartphones, handheld computers and other devices, are becoming a connection point for learners to access education on demand from various locations. Such devices may support a vast range of students connecting to education, but the design of the course and curriculum must be usable and accessible to mobile-learners. In this paper the author discusses the challenges and opportunities of mobile learnings and how Universal Instructional Design (UID) can be used to address them.

Tags: UID, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Gordon, D. T., Gravel, J. W., & Schifter, L. A. (2010). Perspectives on UDL and assessment: An interview with Robert Mislevy. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Universal Design for Learning.

  • This paper documents an interview with Dr. Robert Mislevy, professor at the University of Maryland and co-investigator of the Principled Assessments Design for Inquiry (PADI), a joint project with Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), the University of Maryland, and SRI International. Dr. Mislevy shares his views on the history of assessment strategies, the application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to assessments and policy surrounding large-scale assessments.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments


Higbee, J. L. (2009). Implementing universal instructional design in postsecondary courses and curricula. Journal of College Teaching & Learning6(8), 65-77.

  • In considering the principles of Universal Instructional Design (UID) during development, a course can be built that reduces or eliminates the need for accommodations. This paper discusses each of the principles of UID and how they relate to an educational environment. The author stresses the importance of creating a respectful and welcoming atmosphere for learners and its contribution to positive attitudes to learning, and encourages the rethinking of pedagogy to ensure all students are included. In rethinking pedagogy and determining the essential components of a course, the design may be altered to be more inclusive - time limits, assignment expectations, diverse teaching methods and feedback are all discussed in this paper.
  • The author also includes evaluations from one of her own courses, built around UID principles, as provided by her students. Though the evaluations were from a small cohort of students, they perceived a benefit to their learning related to the implementations of UID principles.

Tags: UID, Design - Syllabus, Design - Assessments


Kelly, K. (2013). UDL and online assessment [Prezi Presentation]. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/1rm9g73wkic_/udl-and-online-assessment/

  • This short presentation contains an introduction to Universal Design of Learning (UDL) principles and explores their relation to assessment in learning. In designing assessments, having multiple pathways is important. Allowing students to have the flexibility of choice of topic, method of response, or a selection of assignments engages students and provides instructors with a clearer indication of what the student knows.

Tags: UDL, Development - Assessments


King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal design for learning: Technology and pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly32(4), 199-201.

  • While technology can accommodate learners in their interactions with course content and materials, its use or incorporation into learning environments does not ensure the development of understanding in the student. To establish a comprehensive understanding of a topic, effective pedagogy, alone or in combination with technology, must be implemented. Clear, precise language, communication of key facts, and an uncluttered format for easy interpretation are all highlighted as important pedagogical features by the author.
  • Although the article refers to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the principles examined are those belonging to Universal Design (UD), however, the effective combination of pedagogy and technology is important to note.

Tags: UDL, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Kumar, K. (2010). A journey towards creating an inclusive classroom: How universal design for learning has transformed my teaching. Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal4(2), 1-5.

  • This essay describes the evolution of one instructor's teaching and design practices to incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies in her face-to-face postsecondary classrooms. Through self-reflection on teaching and learning practices and student feedback, the instructor built flexibility and supports into the learning environment to allow students to best demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. The incorporation of UDL principles had a positive impact on student experiences as well as creating a rewarding teaching experience for the instructor.

Tags: UDL, Development - Materials, Delivery - Communication


Kumar, K. L. & Wideman, M. (2014). Accessible by design: Applying UDL principles in a first year undergraduate course. Canadian Journal of Higher Education44(1), 125-147.

  • This article is a case study of the student response to a face-to-face course that had been developed using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to guide the design and organization process. Student responses were mostly positive in regards to the implemented UDL principles. Findings indicated that the varied options to access resources, the optional assignments and submissions dates were helpful to their learning processes. Through interviews students expressed how the course design and organization was appreciated for the flexibility it offered, the positive social interactions and engagement of the instructor and students in online and in-class discussions, reductions in stress and frustration levels, and its contribution to their success in the course. While the instructor found the implementation of the UDL principles beneficial to the course and teaching experience, it was associated with an increased development workload as well as an increased grading workload with optional assignment types. While this article does not directly pertain to UDL workings in the online environment, the UDL features applied can be used similarly in an online environment.

Tags: UDL, Development - Assessments


Langley-Turnbaugh, S. J., Blair, M., & Whitney, J. (2013). Universal design in assessments. In S. Burgstahler (Ed.). Universal design in higher education: Promising practices. Seattle: University of Washington.

  • With increasing student diversity, there is greater need for faculty development programs to disseminate information about the variety of students entering into higher education and to share Universal Design principles, guidelines and practices. This article summarizes a five year faculty training program at the University of Maine to share UDL principles and practices to support the development of accessible courses. The program consisted of four phases - education, where information and practices related to UDL was disseminated to faculty; implementation, where faculty identified a challenging aspect of their course and used UDL practices to redesign it; reflection/feedback, where faculty reviewed each other's courses, their own course and asked students for feedback regarding the course; and dissemination, where it was planned that the faculty involved in the development program would continuing mentoring faculty within their own departments to promote the understanding and use of UDL. The final phase was impacted by funding cuts, however, the faculty who participated in the development program reported benefits from the incorporation of UDL practice into their courses.

Tags: UDL, Evaluation - Course Completion


Lightfoot, E. & Gibson, P. (2005). Universal instructional design: A new framework for accommodating students in social work courses. Journal of Social Work Education41(2), 269-277.

  • Higher education institutions are required to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. In most courses this is a modification of the existing course to meet the needs of a student who has disclosed a disability and supplied documentation stating such. These reactive modifications do nothing to address the inaccessibility of the course or to help students who may have undiagnosed disabilities or alternative learning styles. By applying Universal Instructional Design (UID) principles to course development, a course can be created with multiple accommodations built into the curriculum, minimizing the need for accommodations.
  • This article looks at four UID principles: welcoming classroom and field environments, essential components of course and field curriculum, multi-modal instructional methods and natural supports, and flexible means of evaluation, as they apply to social work education and accessible technology. A welcoming classroom experience can be established several ways, but begins with instructor-student interactions, which can be conducted face-to-face or using technology. By determining the essential components of the course an instructor can further build objectives, guidelines and materials surrounding those components while considering alternative delivery methods to create accessible content. Multi-modal instructional methods and flexible means of evaluation allow students various ways of accessing and expressing their understanding of the course content.

Tags: UID, Development - Materials, Delivery - Communication, Delivery - Feedback


Madaus, J. W., Banerjee, M., McKeown, K., McGuire, J., Korbel, D., Refsland, L., Liu, Y., Gelbar, N., & Luppi, R. (2011-a). Examples of UDI in online and blended courses. UDI Online. Retrieved from http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/examples-udi-online-and-blended-courses

  • This table, created by the University of Connecticut, provides a definition of each of the Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) principles along with examples for consideration in the design and development of online and blended courses.

Tags: UDI, Development - Assessments, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Madaus, J. W., Banerjee, M., McKeown, K., McGuire, J., Korbel, D., Refsland, L., Liu, Y., Gelbar, N., & Luppi, R. (2011-b). Assessment strategies: Rubrics, Rubistar. UDI Online. Retrieved from http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=node/355

  • On this page of the UDI Project's website, rubrics are introduced as an effective way to communicate assessment strategies and expectations to students. Rubrics provide descriptive criteria for each level of proficiency, indicating to students how each assignment will be assessed. In combination with faculty feedback, the learner can also determine where improvements can be made. The e-tool Rubistar is reviewed and both faculty and students found the use of its rubrics helpful in clarifying requirements.
  • The University of Connecticut project UDI Online focuses on faculty as course designers and reviews e-tools that they may use to aid in the development of a blended or online postsecondary course. The e-tools reviewed were selected by the project team based on set criteria and alignment to one or more Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) principles. Each tool was used and assessed by faculty and students in higher education settings.

Tags: UDI, Development - Assessments, Development - Activities, Delivery - Communication


McAlexander P. J. (2003). Using principles of universal design in college composition courses. In J. L. Higbee (Ed.), Curriculum transformation and disability: Implementing universal design in higher education (pp. 105-114). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

  • As student enrolment continues to climb, the diversity in the student body continues to grow. Students are not only racially, ethnically, and socially diverse, but have differing learning styles and motivations for learning - and a single style teaching approach does not work for all. Applying the concept of Universal Instructional Design (UID) to teaching strategies and course design can offer students flexibility in terms of engagement and learning style, while remaining in line with mandated curriculum.
  • In this chapter of Curriculum Transformation and Disability: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education the author offers suggestions for adopting Universal Instructional Design (UID) changes to a writing composition course to create a more individualized teaching approach. Various teaching strategies may be used to engage different learning styles, content may be presented both audibly and visually (text or graphics), and interactive activities like discussions can be included to foster engagement. Content, readings and assignments could also be related to topics of interest or tailored to allow students a choice of topic or presentation style, allowing them to best showcase their understanding in a mode that reflects their own learning styles and motivations. Feedback is also highlighted by the author in this chapter - feedback from both the instructor and in a peer-review setting is a valuable tool for learners. The discussions that occur encourage the community environment and offer a teaching opportunity to further the development of the students.

Tags: UID, Development - Assessments, Development - Activities, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Morra, T. & Reynolds, J. (2010). Universal design for learning: Application for technology-enhanced learning. Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges15(1), 43-51.

  • Technology enhanced courses - courses that can be fully online or some combination of online content and face-to-face interactions - are increasingly being found in higher education environments. While enrolments in these types of courses continue to rise, their design and presentation may still be presenting barriers to learning. This article analyzes several technology-enhanced course offerings developed by the lead author with the intent to identify features that fall in line with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles as well as areas that could be updated or revised to better align with these principles. The examples given in this article focus on the course assignments, however strategies for representation, action and expression, and engagement can be applied to course content in many cases to further enhance learner interactions and experiences.

Tags: UDL, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Open Learning and Educational Support. (n.d.) Universal Instructional Design (UID): A workbook for faculty teaching at a distance. Retrieved from http://opened.uoguelph.ca/instructor-resources/resources/uid-workbook-DE.pdf

  • Developed by the University of Guelph, this workbook is intended to introduce faculty and instructional designers to applications of Universal Instructional Design (UID) in the redesign or development of distance learning courses. Divided into two sections, design and delivery, 12 goals in creating an inclusive teaching and learning environment are aligned with UID principles and presented along with examples of potential applications. This workbook has been developed as a starting point for course designers and developers.

Tags: UID, Design - Syllabus, Evaluation - Course Completion


Ouellett, M. L. (2004). Faculty development and universal instructional design. Equity & Excellence in Education37(2), 135-144.

  • Learners in post-secondary environments are increasingly more socially and culturally diverse, demanding institutions and instructors to rise to the challenge of providing equal access to all. By looking to teaching and instructional development resources, instructors can begin to alter practices to meet the diversity of students entering their classrooms. Universal Instructional Design (UID) is a model which instructors can implement in their course design that will address obstacles to teaching and learning and improve accessibly. UID encourages the consideration of the range of learners that may be enrolled in a course and designing the course to be accessible and engaging to all.
  • It is important to articulate the key course components to the learners so all are aware of what is required from them. Clearly identifying outcomes can further guide the development of a course with an increased focus on the connections between learning goals and content. Suggested applications of UID principles from this article include summaries of key terms, concepts and ideas, thought prompts, and a range of format and activity types to engage different learning styles. The article also encourages providing students with clear expectations and feedback for assignments. Rubrics are an effective way for an instructor to clearly state the method of assessment, while giving instructions and information regarding the goals of the assignment.
  • Instructors looking to apply Universal Instructional Design principles to promote excellence in their undergraduate teaching should look to teaching and learning centers and instructional developers as a resource ready to support them in the creation of more inclusive courses.

Tags: UID, Development - Assessments, Delivery - Feedback


Palmer, J. & Caputo, A. (n.d.). The Universal Instructional Design implementation guide. Retrieved from http://opened.uoguelph.ca/instructor-resources/resources/uid-implimentation-guide-v13.pdf

  • This resource guide from the University of Guelph has been developed as an assessment tool for faculty, instructional designers, and others to use in reviewing the current accessibility of courses and planning for better inclusion moving forward with redevelopments. Each principle of Universal Instructional Design (UID) is explored with examples of how traditional face-to-face offerings may implement strategies to align with these principles. This resource also offers prompts and guiding questions to help faculty reflect on the incorporation and implementation of UID principles when developing an online offering.

Tags: UID, Design - Learning Outcomes, Development - Assessments, Development - Activities, Evaluation - Throughout Offering


Phillips, J. (2015) Five course design tips to maximize learning, creativity, engagement. Retrieved from http://u.osu.edu/universaldesign/2015/10/29/five-course-design-tricks-to-maximize-learning-creativity-engagement-educause-2015/

  • In this posting Jessica Phillips, presenter at the 2015 EDUCAUSE conference and Senior Instructional Designer at Ohio State University, comments on her experience as a presenter at the conference and provides her PowerPoint from the session discussing 'Five Online Course Design Tricks to Maximize Learning, Creativity, Engagement' by using Universal Design for Learning as a framework.

Tags: UDL, Development - Materials


Poore-Parisea, C. (2010) Online learning: Designing for all users. Journal of Usability Studies5(4), 147-156.

  • While the governing accessibility laws examined in this paper are applicable to the United States, the themes and suggestions for course development can be applied to all online courses to improve accessibility. The author stresses the importance of recognizing the utilization of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles at the start of the design process. Implementing accessibility checks throughout the design process ensures equal opportunities for all learners to engage in their education and negates the need for individual accommodations on a case by case basis. The author has detailed the potential costs and benefits to implementing UDL principles and accessibility checks at the forefront of online course design; however, they do not go into depth on specific checkpoints and design changes that can improve accessibility.

Tags: UDL, Development - Materials


Poore-Pariseau, C. (2013). Universal design in assessments. In S. Burgstahler (Ed.). Universal design in higher education: Promising practices. Seattle: University of Washington.

  • In this article the author presents a case study of one of her own courses that was developed to further utilize Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. To better include all manners of students in a freshman seminar course, Poore-Pariseau incorporated various activities and assignments into the course to appeal to a variety of learning styles. The final examination of the course is highlighted as an example of the UDL principle of multiple means of action and expression - allowing the learner to present key pieces of the course content in a manner that best suited their own learning style. By providing students with a rubric of assessment for this final project, they have a clear idea of the expectations and requirements of the project and the instructor has a defined set of standards to which each submission, regardless of medium, is assessed.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments, Development - Assessments


Rao, K. (2012). Universal design for online courses: Addressing the needs of non-traditional learners. 2012 IEEE International Conference on Technology Enhanced Education (ICTEE). Amritapuri, India.

  • Online education is a flexible and appealing option for the non-traditional learner - those living in remote or rural areas, the adult learner, and those with a disability - looking to attain a degree or advance their education. By incorporating Universal Design principles into the design of an online environment we can address some of the challenges faced by the non-traditional learner and better support them in their educational goals. This paper looks at common issues faced by non-traditional learners in an online learning environment and proposes strategies for addressing these challenges that are directly aligned with principles of Universal Instructional Design (UID).

Tags: UID, Design - Assessments, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence, Delivery - Communication


Rao, K., Edelen-Smith, P. & Wailehua, C-U. (2015). Universal design for online courses: Applying principles to pedagogy. Open Learning30(1), 35-52.

  • Various Universal Design frameworks can be considered during the development of an online course to increase accessibility and usability for the increasingly diverse students choosing online education. In this article an instructor responsible for the development of three courses considers Universal Instructional Design (UID) guidelines as well as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and how they may be applied to each stage of the design process. The instructor considered the potential students registering in the courses and selected course options that provided flexibility and choice, organized content in a clear and consistent manner, and designed activities to foster interaction and engagement, all in a way that suited her teaching style. While student evaluations noted appreciation for the flexibility and options offered, the efficacy of the strategies were not examined.

Tags: UID, Design - Assessments, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence


Rao, K. & Tanners, A. (2011). Curb cuts in cyberspace: Universal instructional design for online courses. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability,24(3), 211-229.

  • Including Universal Design features into the online course development process can work to improve course accessibility for all students and reduce the need to provide accommodation. While students may still have a need to request special accommodations in a course, applying Universal Design principles to the overall learning environment, as well as specific elements of the course, can create a learning environment that is accessible to a range of learners. In this study, the authors developed an online course following the guidelines of Universal Instructional Design (UID) and found that the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) were also met. They provide detail into the course development process using UID principles and how these considerations were factored into their development and implementation of course content and resources. Student feedback from the case study course was also collected and their evaluation of the UID features is highlighted.

Tags: UID, Development - Materials


Rose, D. H. & Meyer, A. (2002-a). Using UDL to set clear goals. In Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/101042/chapters/Using-UDL-to-Set-Clear-Goals.aspx

  • A clear goal can be reached in many ways. In this chapter of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age, the authors explore how clear goals are essential for learning and how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be used to develop them. Although aligning learning goals with established standards may be a challenge, we must recognize that a one-size-fits all approach will not suit the diverse range of learners encountered. It is important to looks at the true purpose of a goal as separate from the methods: by differentiating between these points the clear goal can be established and used to develop flexible support, teaching strategies and criteria for assessment.

Tags: UDL, Design - Learning Outcomes


Rose, D. H. & Meyer, A. (2002-b). Using UDL to accurately assess student progress. In Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/101042/chapters/Using-UDL-to-Accurately-Assess-Student-Progress.aspx

  • While a single testing medium with the same questions and procedures may seem "fairer" and equal in approach, the reality is that it may not accurately assess the knowledge or skills a learner possesses, but reflect the ability or inability of that learner to work with the testing medium. This chapter of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age focuses on the assessments of students, looking at the shortcomings of traditional assessment strategies and at the application of the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to develop more accurate assessments suited to a diverse student population.
  • By building flexibility into the presentation and expression and engagement of assessments - barriers that students may traditionally encounter - are addressed in advance allowing for an accurate evaluation of learning and performance.

Tags: UDL, Development - Assessments, Development - Activities


Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability19(2), 135-151.

  • This article discusses Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as it is related to the neuroscience of recognition networks, strategic networks and active networks. The authors then move on to review their own considerations of the UDL principles and guidelines in the creation and ongoing development of a university level graduate course. Specifically, the authors look at the goals and objectives, media and material, group discussions, and student assessment in their course offering and how the development has been guided by the principles of UDL.

Tags: UDL, Development - Activities


Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Foley, T. E. (2003). Universal design for instruction: A framework for anticipating and responding to disability and other diverse learning needs in the college classroom. Equity & Excellence in Education36(1), 40-49.

  • Traditionally instructional needs of students with disabilities were met through accommodation of regular class procedures, practices and assessments on a case by case basis. In this article Scott, McGuire, and Foley examined the principles of Universal Design, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, and the Universal Access Principles for Designing Curriculum to produce the Principles of Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) with the aim of promoting accessible higher education for everyone. Each of the nine principles of UDI are described and examples of applications in instructional settings are provided.

Tags: UDI, Design - Syllabus, Design - Assessments, Development - Assessments, Development - Materials, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence, Delivery - Communication, Evaluation - Throughout Offering


Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Shaw, S. F. (2003). Universal design for instruction: A new paradigm for adult instruction in postsecondary education. Remedial and Special Education24(6), 369-379.

  • Student diversity is increasing in the post-secondary environment and a wider range of learning needs are present in the classroom - retrofitting accommodations have limited ability to meet this range of needs. Students who do not meet the criterial to qualify for accommodations do not receive supports that can assist in their learning and students meeting the criteria often must wait for the accommodations to be implemented, both may be placed at a disadvantage by this process.
  • This article discusses the changing student demographics in post-secondary institutions, noting the rise in enrolments from groups considered at-risk, underrepresented, and those with learning disabilities. The implications Universal Instructional Design (UID) can have on enhancing learning for these individuals as well as traditional learners is also discussed. Using a case study to illustrate the application of UID as a framework also shows how instructors may already be using inclusive practices within their courses. UID can be used to further build on this, increasing the understanding of why and how additional practices may be used to develop accessible and inclusive strategies.

Tags: UDI, Design - Assessments, Development - Layout, Structure, Sequence, Delivery - Communication, Evaluation - Course Completion


Silver, P., Bourke, A., & Strehorn, K. C. (1998). Universal instructional design in higher education: An approach for inclusion. Equity & Excellence in Education,31(2), 47-51.

  • In the current typical post-secondary learning environment, those that encounter barriers to their learning to due to a disability, must identify themselves as having a disability and request special accommodations to access the same materials and information that are easily available for others within the same learning environment. The authors argue that by implementing Universal Instructional Design (UID) changes to their courses, instructors are building in changes that easily allow those with disabilities to access content and materials without special accommodation requests as well as helping all learners by providing flexible and innovated options.
  • To engage with faculty, the authors initiated focus groups with 13 faculty members lasting 1.5 hours to define Universal Instructional Design in their own terms, its implementation and any barriers to its implementation on their campus. These sessions were recorded and later analyzed to reveal that while faculty are interested in innovative teaching approaches and want to be responsive to diverse learning needs to benefit all students, they saw barriers with time, attitudes and training. The faculty discussions indicated an awareness of the need for a culture change within the university environment to incorporate new ways of teaching and learning and expressed a desire for faculty training and supports.
  • Though a limited number of faculty were involved in the focus group, the opinions they expressed are valuable in developing training and supports to put faculty at ease with the incorporation of UID practices and evolving post-secondary learning environments to suit all learners.

Tags: UID, Design - Assessment 


Smith, F. G. (2012). Analyzing a college course that adheres to the universal design for learning (UDL) framework. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning12(3), 31-61.

  • This study examines the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices into a graduate level course conducted in a face-to-face environment and its relationship to student engagement and interest. The course within the study was primarily taught by a single faculty member who worked to incorporate UDL practices over the course of four semesters, migrating from a design focused on instructor interests and instructional practices, to a design that supports student diversity. Each semester student feedback was collected and the instructor evaluated the UDL practices implemented to determine if the strategies used were important to student success. A few of the strategies deemed important by the instructor and the students are clear learning goals, and timely and constructive feedback, among others. The responses collected indicate a positive relationship between UDL practices and the engagement and interest of students.

Tags: UDL, Design - Assessments, Development - Activities


Special Education Technology - British Columbia (SET-BC). (2016). Rubrics. Retrieved from http://www.udlresource.ca/?p=2312

  • A well-designed rubric is an effective tool for evaluating student work. It clearly explains to students the characteristics and level of work expected for a satisfactory, exemplary, or excellent result. Rubrics align with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as they provide a guideline to students while not limiting how they chose to express their response to the characteristics outlined. They also are a tool for instructors to use, as they outline a clear set of standards to which the instructors will evaluate all student responses, regardless of the medium used to communicate.

This page of the Special Education Technology - British Columbia (SET-BC) UDL Resource website provides a brief introduction to rubrics and one suggestion on the process to develop them. Although this site was developed to support K-12 educators, UDL is the overreaching theme and the information is valid and applicable to higher education.

Tags: UDL, Development - Assessments


Tobin, T. J. (2014). Increase online student retention with universal design for learning. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(3), 13-24.

  • By adopting the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the design and development of online courses students of varied backgrounds and learning needs will be able to better interact and engage with course content, materials and resources. This article presents five strategies for applying UDL to course content to create various learning paths, course engagement, and assessments, as well as planning points for implementing UDL principles into the online environment that can be taken on in the next 20 minutes, 20 weeks and 20 months.

Tags: UDL, Evaluation - Throughout Offering


Tobin, T. J. (2013). Universal design in online courses: Beyond disabilities. Online Classroom, 13(12), 1-3.

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was originally developed for making face-to-face instruction equally accessible to all. In applying it to other learning environments, like online instruction, faculty members may be unsure how to apply the strategies, the work involved, as well as the benefits for students, with and without disabilities.
  • This article provides insight into the process of enhancing online courses for improved accessibility by following two hypothetical instructors in their work with teaching and learning services to enhance parts of their courses following UDL principles. The incorporation of UDL strategies into online courses can involve a greater workload initially for faculty, but the multiple paths to learning that evolve can benefit everyone involved in the course.

Tags: UDL, Development - Materials


Weir, L. (2005) Raising the awareness of online accessibility: The importance of developing and investing in online course materials that enrich the classroom experience for special-need students. T.H.E. Journal (Technological Horizons in Education Journal). Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2005/05/01/raising-the-awareness-of-online-accessibility.aspx

  • Thoughtful course design is important for creating learning environments that are available for all learners to use. In this article the author communicates the feedback she has received from students with disabilities regarding their experience with online education. In seeking student input the author reflects on the practices, such as short manageable tasks, clear simple explanations, and consistent navigation and flow, which can be used to improve the design of online courses to help all students' progress.

Tags: UDL, Design - Layout, Structure, Sequence