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Universal Design of Learning

Click here to watch our CLKD Family Support Team talk to you about Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that aims to remove barriers and provide all students with equal opportunities to learn and succeed. It is based on three main principles:

  • Tap into learners motivation and interests through multiple means of engagement (the why of learning)

  • Give learners different ways to acquire information through multiple means of presenting content (the what of learning)

  • Give learners different ways to demonstrate knowledge through multiple means of expression and assessment (the how of learning)

UDL can transform schools and learning environments into inclusive and accessible spaces that result in more effective learning for the broad range of diversity that exists in classrooms today.

This set of principles can transform classrooms and learning environments into inclusive and accessible spaces. The goal of UDL is to remove barriers and give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. The focus is on utilizing multiple means of motivating students, communicating content and assessing knowledge within every learning environment – not just in classrooms for students with disabilities.

UDL is based on three main principles – give learners different ways to acquire information through multiple means of representation; give learners different ways to demonstrate learning through multiple means of expression; and tap into learners' motivation and interests through multiple means of engagement

A Universal Design for Learning approach can increase student engagement and academic success, and help teachers better support every student in their classroom.


CAST: About Universal Design for Learning

The Universal Design for Learning framework and guidelines were initially created by CAST, a non-profit education research and development organization based in Boston. CAST’s mission is to transform educational design and practices until learning has no limits.

The CAST website features past and ongoing research projects, resources, guidelines and even a podcast to support educators to utilize UDL principles in various environments, including classrooms, adult education and online learning.

They also offers various professional development opportunities, including structured and self-paced courses for educators and the annual UDL International Summer, held each spring.


Universal Design for Learning vs Traditional Education

This short article from the non-profit Understood, highlights some of the differences between traditional classrooms and UDL classrooms.


Ontario Ministry of Education: Learning for All

In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education released Learning for All: A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for all Students, Kindergarten to Grade 12. The document, centred on the belief that universal design and differentiated instruction are effective and interconnected means of meeting the learning needs of any group of students, supports educators to implement a variety of learning, assessment and engagement strategies within their classrooms.

The full document is available at:

A summary of the Learning for All document is available at:


Universal Design for Parents

Inclusive School’s Sarah Humphrey developed this resource to help parents start conversations with their child’s teacher or school. UDL is a framework that parents can utilize to understand how their child is or could be better supported in the classroom to improve learning outcomes.


Planning Online Lessons with UDL

Since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, teachers across the country have had to quickly adapt and learn to teach online classes for their students. This article from the non-profit Understood, can help teachers make online learning more accessible and successful for all students using Universal Design for Learning principles and techniques.


UDL in 15 Minutes – The Podcast

Loui Lord Nelson hosts the UDL in 15 mins podcast, interviewing educators, researchers and school staff about their experiences with implementing UDL. Episode 10 features Jana Nicol, a 3rd grade teacher at Island View School in New Brunswick. Jana shares how she began her UDL journey with the design of her environment and how she supports her students to understand the goals of the day.


Rick Hansen Foundation Toolkits

The Rick Hansen foundation believes that Universal Design for Learning is an effective approach for addressing the learning needs of all students. Today’s classrooms are comprised of students with diverse learning styles and the RHF has created several toolkits focused on implementing UDL principles in the physical classroom environment as well as in lesson planning.


Council of Ontario’s Universities

Through a partnership with several universities and the Government of Ontario, the Council of Ontario’s Universities has developed resources to support the accessible delivery and instruction of higher education programs and courses.

The Educator’s Accessibility Toolkit features resources, tips and strategies that can be utilized by professors as well as public school teachers to create more inclusive, accessible education.


Kari Kumar: Journey Towards Creating an Inclusive Classroom

Kari Kumar, a teacher at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, shares how Universal Design for Learning has transformed his teaching at the University of Ontario.


Watch the video of the CLKD Family Support Team talk about UDL:

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