Universal Design for Learning

Creating an inclusive teaching environment through Universal Design

Universal Design for Learning, emphasises choice in all areas of your teaching – choice with how students engage with the material, how they learn and how they are assessed.

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines were initially created by the US organisation CAST, who wanted to improve teaching and learning environments by scientifically exploring how humans learn.


The guidelines can be summarised into 3 main areas:


UDL guidelines on multiple ways to learn, teach and assess
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2


UDL recognises and accommodates the individual learning styles, preferences and learning needs of all students. To ensure equitable access to the learning environment, academic staff should consider the diversity of the student body in the design, delivery and assessment of courses and modules. 


The DLSS work closely with the Teaching Enhancement Unit in DCU to promote Universal Design for Instruction which is an educational framework that applies the principles of universal design to the teaching environment.


Below is a very brief introduction to UDL principles and some practical examples to apply to your teaching:

CAST UDL Principle Suggested Actions
Provide Multiple Means of Engagement


  • Optimise the ways in which a learner can engage with the material e.g. readings, videos, Ted Talks etc
  • Provide self-assessment tools to enable the learner to monitor their own progress e.g. ensure students are actively engaging with MyFeedback on Loop
  • Regularly prompt the learner to restate their learning goals
  • Provide feedback that is relevant, constructive, accessible and timely.
Provide Multiple Means of Representation                 


  • Providing learning materials in multiple formats (e.g. PowerPoint, videos, e-books)
  • Ensure all videos have captions and images have alternative text, so screen-reading software can read them
  • Provide glossaries of common terminology
  • Enable students to apply the new knowledge to their own lived experiences, by considering all differences ( cultural, social, age )
Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression


  • Use of multiple media for teaching ( e.g. PowerPoint, video, ebooks, social media, illustrations)
  • Use multiple ways of responding in class and interacting with physical material
  • Enhance the executive functioning skills of students through goal-setting and ‘chunking-down’ material
  • Give a clear overview of a module with signposts to key readings and assessments