Universal design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. One example of UD is an automatic door opener, which allows a door to be accessible to a large number of people. Not only do individuals who use wheelchairs benefit, but so do mothers pushing a baby stroller, individuals carrying large packages, and students pulling wheeled bookbags.
In terms of learning, universal design means the design of instructional materials and activities that make the learning goals and objectives achievable by individuals with a wide variance in their ability to see, hear, speak, move, read, write, understand English, attend, organize, engage, and remember. In essence, universal design for learning, or UDL, provides alternatives for students with differing abilities. This guide provides more information on how to apply UDL principles in your course.
There is a host of information on the Internet regarding UDL in higher education. The following sites are especially excellent resources for faculty and staff who wish to make their course, programs and/or classrooms more universally accessible and inclusive: