Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)

Universal design for instruction (UDI) is an educational framework that applies Universal Design (UD) principles to all aspects of instruction: delivery methods, physical spaces, information resources, technology, personal interactions and assessments. The goal of UDI is to maximize the learning of students with a wide range of characteristics by identifying and eliminating unnecessary barriers to teaching and learning while maintaining academic rigor. [1]

Universal Design for Instruction

  • Provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information.
  • Is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit students of all learning styles with up-front planning so there is no need for adapting or retrofitting.
  • Does not remove academic challenges; it removes barriers to access.

UDI principles applied in the classroom benefit all students including but not limited to:

  • Students who have disabilities
  • Students who use English as a Second Language
  • International students
  • Older students
  • Students whose learning style is inconsistent with the teacher’s preferred teaching style

Rather than providing accommodations for a specific student (e.g. a sign language interpreter for a student who is deaf), UDI benefits all students. UDI is not a dumbing-down of the curriculum but a better means of access. Simply put, it’s just good teaching.

[1] Burgstahler, Sheryl. (2015) Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice. Harvard University Press, 2nd edition.