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Universal Design for Learning



The term "universal design" is defined in section 3001, item (19) of Public Law 105-394, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as "a concept or philosophy for designing and delivering products and services that are usable by people with the widest possible range of functional capabilities, which include products and services that are directly accessible (without requiring assistive technologies) and products and services that are interoperable with assistive technologies."

The term “Universal Design for Learning” is defined in Section 103 of Public Law 110-315, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, as "a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that

(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and
(B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.”

The National Center on Universal Design for Learning defines UDL as “a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.  The three principles are:

1. Provide multiple means of representation (the “what” of learning)
2. Provide multiple means of action and expression (the “how” of learning)
3. Provide multiple means of engagement (the “why” of learning)

Additional guidelines, examples, and resources for UDL are available on the website of the National Center on Universal Design for Learning. 


National Center on Universal Design for Learning
This website includes UDL basics (principles and guidelines), advocacy and public policy (including a  “UDL in Your State” page that includes a link to Florida), implementation (including media presentations), research, UDL Connects groups and forums, and resources (videos, presentations, articles, and links). 

Postsecondary Education and Universal Design for Learning Online Module
This online module was developed by the Florida Consortium on Postsecondary Education and Intellectual Disabilities for postsecondary educators, but the concepts, strategies, and benefits it presents are applicable to other grade levels. 

Universal Design for Learning - Initiatives on the Move: Understanding the Impact of the Race to the Top and ARRA Funding on the Promotion of Universal Design for Learning
This report from the National Center for Universal Design for Learning summarizes two studies that surveyed 14 states and 160 Local Education Agencies. Some of the findings indicated high levels of familiarity and confusion about UDL implementation and that ARRA funds are being used to improve services to students with disabilities--including implementing UDL.

VECAP Position Paper on Universal Design for Learning for Career Assessment and Vocational Evaluation
This paper describes the rationale, science, and benefits of incorporating UDL into a framework for designing and administering career assessments and vocational evaluations to all students.  


P.L. 105-394, Assistive Technology Act of 1998, Section 3, Definitions and Rule, (a)(17). 112 STAT. 3634-3635. Available at  

P.L.110-315, Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Section 103, Additional Definitions (23) and (24), 122 STAT.3088. Available at

National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.) What is Universal Design for Learning? Wakefield, MA: Author. Available at

Smith, F. G., Leconte, P., & Vitelle, E. (2012). The VECAP position paper on universal design for learning for career assessment and vocational evaluation. Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Journal, 8(1), 13-26.



The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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