26 September 2021

Take a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Reduce barriers to learning’

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Benefits of UDL

Benefits of UDL

UDL is an approach to designing learning that is accessible for all learners.

Taking a UDL approach ensures that learners:

  • have the tools and supports that work for them
  • have equitable access to learning opportunities
  • are provided with flexible options rather than a one-size-fits-all approach
  • are able to adjust the content to suit their learning needs.

Source: Inclusive Education | Universal Design for Learning guide

Three UDL principles

Three UDL principles

The principles encourage proactive and intentional design focused on providing multiple ways to:

  • motivate students (engagement)
  • present concepts (representation)
  • allow students to demonstrate their learning (action and expression).

Plan using UDL

Plan using UDL

UDL starts with what we know about the learner and the context of their learning.

Apply UDL in any context to guide your thinking and planning.

Consider potential barriers

Consider potential barriers

Barriers are often created when we offer single, inflexible approaches.

Consider these examples of barriers. How could you use technologies or offer a range of approaches to remove these barriers?

Knowledge of learner
Design choice
Potential barrier

Low vision

Paperback book

Text cannot be enlarged

Decodes text slowly

15 minute time frame for multiple choice text

Insufficient time to complete test

Uses a wheelchair

Class presentation on the school stage

Steep flight of steps up to the stage

Hard of hearing

Videos without closed captions

Unable to access content

Source: Inclusive Education | Universal Design for Learning guide

Make tools available to all

Make tools available to all

Often tools or approaches traditionally offered to one learner can easily be made available to everyone.

This is a universal approach and the tools become optional supports for everyone.

Useful resources

Useful resources


Ending Streaming in Aotearoa

Read time: 20 min

Publisher: Tokona Te Raki | Māori Futures Collective

Visit website


UDL and the learning brain

Read time: 5 min

Publisher: CAST

Download PDF

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Reduce barriers to learning”:

Return to the guide “Technology tools for learning”