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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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E-mail this pageUniversal Design for Learning

This topic is about Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a flexible teaching approach that utilizes a variety of materials and teaching methods to accommodate a wide range of learners in an individualized way.


Universal Design is an approach to designing products and environments for maximum usability. Universal Design results in accessibility because it seeks from the outset to meet the needs and desires of the widest possible range of users. The concept traces its origin to the field of architecture; building designers were the first to clearly state and implement principles of Universal Design. Ramped entrances and automatic doors are architectural examples of Universal Design. A product or process that is universally designed is inclusively designed.

In education, Universal Design concepts are useful not only for buildings and classrooms, but also for curriculum and assessment. In the past, providing access to education has meant enabling physical access to the classroom and, for some students, providing adaptive equipment to facilitate sensory and motor access to the curriculum. More recently, however, there has been a growing interest in designing curriculum, instruction, and assessment so as to increase access and reduce the need for individualized adaptation and accommodation. In order for students with disabilities to have meaningful access to the general curriculum, diverse learning needs and styles must be accommodated. Universal Design for Learning provides a way to offer flexible curriculum and learning environments so that students with widely varying abilities can all access the general curriculum and achieve the academic content standards that have been established for all students in their school, district, or state.

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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.