20 June 2024

Take a UDL approach

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Adopt a people-first design process

Adopt a people-first design process

The UDL Thinking Cycle is one approach to applying UDL.

It helps us anticipate potential barriers to learning and identify useful supports that can be offered to everyone.

Check out the guiding questions in the interactive version of the UDL Thinking Cycle.

Introduce UDL to ākonga

Introduce UDL to ākonga

Support ākonga to co-design teaching and learning approaches that are going to work for them.

Introduce them to UDL and review current needs and preferences.

Identify together potential barriers to learning and useful supports.

  1. Play the Understanding Universal Design for Learning video or the UDL and the NZC video to introduce ākonga to UDL.
  2. Discuss key themes and share why you are learning about and also introducing them to UDL.
  3. Invite ākonga to complete the downloadable "Supporting learning: What's in the way & what would help?' activity or create a similar activity for your own context.
  4. Review completed templates (here is an example) and note common barriers and requests for support.
  5. If possible, discuss as a department or learning area and take a coordinated approach.
  6. Discuss with ākonga possible actions you will take to meet their learning needs and preferences and get their feedback.
  7. Trial changes in practice, review with ākonga and continue to explore UDL together.

Introduce all ākonga to assistive technologies

Introduce all ākonga to assistive technologies

Assistive technologies (AT), such as Text-to-Speech, are a valuable option for all ākonga.

They can support access to large volumes of reading material and support the production of written tasks.

Screen readers (text-to-speech)
Screen readers can be used in class and for assessments. They support access to information and reduce cognitive load.

Speech recognition (speech-to-text)
A useful tool for getting down ideas by talking.

Rate enhancement and writing support
Proofreading tools and topic dictionaries, such as the Mirriam Webster picture dictionary.

Magnification / visual aids
Standalone magnification applications such as Zoomtext have a screen reader built in and the functionality can be used together.

This research summary of AT used by NCEA candidates contains an inventory and explanations of tools commonly used by NZ students. It identifies what can be used in assessments.

Source: Assistive Technology Inventory Research Summary: NCEA Online Programme (Nov 2020) (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources


Key questions to consider when planning lessons

Nine self-review questions, aligned to the UDL guidelines, which support teachers to think about: how learners will engage with the lesson, how information is presented to learners, and how learners are expected to act strategically and express themselves.

Publisher: CAST

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Planning with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Read time: 3 min

A series of downloadable templates that help you to use UDL when you plan your teaching and assessments.

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Accommodations: What they are and how they work

Read time: 4 min

An explanation of accommodations in plain English. Examples of accommodations with a link to further information on using them in the classroom.


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Guide to Index of the guide: Dyslexia and learning

Strategies for action: