What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Ace Parsi, MPP

A teacher looks over two students reading a book in a classroom.

At a glance

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) gives all students an equal opportunity to succeed.

  • This approach to teaching and learning offers flexibility in the ways students access material and show what they know.

  • UDL also looks for different ways to keep students motivated.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to teaching and learning that gives all students equal opportunity to succeed.

To understand what UDL is, it helps to understand what it’s not. The word universal may throw you off. It may sound like UDL is about finding one way to teach all students. But UDL actually takes the opposite approach.

The goal of UDL is to use a variety of teaching methods to remove any barriers to learning. It’s about building in flexibility that can be adjusted for every person’s strengths and needs. That’s why UDL benefits all learners.

This approach to teaching or to workplace training doesn’t specifically target people who learn and think differently. But it can be especially helpful for kids with these challenges — including those who have not been formally diagnosed. It can also be very helpful for English language learners.

Watch this video to see what UDL looks like in a fifth-grade classroom.

Dive deeper

About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ace Parsi, MPP served as the personalized learning partnership manager at NCLD.


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