Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Learning Guide: UDL Principles

Universal Design for Learning

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Students are diverse learners with unique abilities, backgrounds and learning approaches. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework aims to create inclusive and equitable learning environments by providing: multiple means of representation, multiple means of engagement and multiple means of expression.

The three principles of UDL

There are three principles of UDL that support the diversity of your students and remove barriers to learning. These principles empower students by offering them flexibility in how they access information, engage with content and demonstrate their understanding. These three principles are as follows: 

Principle 1: Multiple Means of Representation

Includes presenting course content and information in multiple formats (visual, auditory and tactile), with the understanding that students perceive and comprehend information in different ways. 


Incorporate multimedia elements, interactive tools, infographics and alternative text options.

Principle 2: Multiple Means of Engagement

Allows students to demonstrate and connect with their learning in different ways. It can involve offering choices, incorporating interactive activities, and tapping into individual interests, passions, and cultural backgrounds.


Provide options for responding (polls, iClickers, chat features) and completing assignments using different media (text, speech, film, music).

Principle 3: Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Uses a variety of ways to stimulate student engagement and interest in learning course content. It acknowledges that students possess unique strengths and preferences when it comes to communicating their knowledge.


Provide options that encourage collaboration and communication such as group projects or peer tutoring.

Benefits of UDL

There are several benefits of using UDL principles when designing your courses and materials that will support not only your students, but your instructional experience. These include:

Inclusivity and accessibility

This removes barriers and creates an environment where every student can thrive, reducing the need for individual accommodations, saving instructor time and resources.

Personalized learning experiences

Students can engage with content and demonstrate their understanding in ways that align with their strengths and preferences, leading to increased motivation, engagement and achievement.

Flexibility and adaptability

You can easily integrate seamless integration of new technologies, resources and instructional strategies, ensuring that the learning experience remains relevant and effective over time.

Increased engagement and motivation

Incorporating multimedia, interactive elements, real-world connections and choices adds agency to a students learning experience and make instruction that much more enjoyable and meaningful.

Reflection activity

Case study scenario

Scenario: Rowan is a teaching faculty*. Rowan has observed that some students in their class, particularly those with attention difficulties, struggle to stay engaged during learning activities, such as lectures, labs and/or tutorials. Rowan wants to explore UDL strategies to enhance student engagement and ensure all students have equal opportunities to succeed.

*Please feel free to adapt this scenario for your own specific discipline.


  1. Identify the barriers to engagement faced by students with attention difficulties in this classroom.
  2. How can Rowan apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to address these barriers and promote active participation?
  1. 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 Disability, 26(3), 195. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1026883.pdf 

Explore the sections

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UDL Principles

Review the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that can be used in your course design

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Applying UDL Practices

Learn practical strategies and tools to ensure your course materials and instructional methods are designed in an inclusive and accessible manner

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Assessing Impact

Learn ways to assess the impact of including accessible and inclusive principles in your teaching

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Examples at UVic

Explore ways instructors and teaching staff are using UDL principles in their classroom and beyond (following the CAST framework)

About this post


This page was last updated:

June 1, 2023

We acknowledge and respect the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) Peoples on whose territory the university stands, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

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