Universal Design for Learning & Accessibility

Inclusive teaching strives to ensure that all students feel supported as they learn. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework that promotes equitable opportunities to learn for all people. UDL is a student-centered approach to designing flexible curriculum that addresses the strengths of diverse learners. UDL guidelines encourage instructors to provide their students with multiple means of Representation, Action & Expression, and Engagement. These guidelines benefit all students by providing a level of flexibility in interacting with course content, activities, and assessments. One component to providing pathways to student success is creating accessible course content. This could include videos with captions, texts availiable in both print and digital formats, and other content that is available to students through Blackboard, UC's Learning Management System.

Our Model

CET&L is committed to supporting members of UC's teaching community in employing UDL by:

  • Providing tailored consultations and peer observation of teaching to identify potential barriers to learning and strategies to overcome these barriers;
  • Creating programming on employing Universal Design for Learning in existing courses and new courses;
  • Connecting members of UC's teaching community to appropriate resources and campus services; and
  • Highlighting examples of excellence in employing UDL at UC.

The UDL Framework

Multiple Means of Engagement

Making connections between course content and a student's interest can make information more relevant, increasing the student's motivation to learn. Interests can vary student to student based on past experience and future goals. In addition, interests can change as students gain new knowledge and skills. The extrinsic environmonet of a course along with a learner's instric ability to self-regulate contribute to motivation and engagement. Supporting learners who differ in initial motivation and self-regulation skills ensures that all learners can seek personal learning goals that can be met.

Multiple Means of Representation

Providing the same information through different formats ensures that key information is equally perceptible to all learnings. Information can be provided through visual, audiory, or textual means. In addition, options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols may be applicable. Options for comprehension including accessising background knowledge, highlighint big ideas and critical relationshops can help students transform accessible information into usable knowledge.

Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Allowing students to communicate in different ways allows learners to express what they know. Options for communication could be through written form or speech/audio recording. Providing print and electronic formats for texts is an easy way to provide multiple ways of interacting and navigating materials. Developing executive functioning and self-regulation skills helps students set goals and plan strategies for how to reach those goals. Supporting students in reflection, organization, planning, and prioritizing assists them in developing skills they will use in a course and in life.



Universal Design for Learning

Much of what we know about UDL we have learned from CAST: a nonprofit education research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals. Their UDL on Campus website focus on UDL in higher education.

UDL Checklist

Use this checklist to help you design your instruction, course content, activities, and assessments to support all students and remove barriers from the learning process.

WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind

WebAIM is based out of Utah State University and works to make the web more accessibile to individuals with disabilities. Their collection of resources can be used not only for web accessibility but any electronic content. There are also several tools and simulations that you can explore.

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Course Content with Ally in Canvas

The University of Cincinnati is committed to providing full and equal access to students with disabilities, and in particular, has been focusing efforts around increasing the accessibility of our electronic resources, including course content. As part of that effort, the university invested in Ally, an accessibility tool in Canvas that provides feedback and instruction on how to make course documents more accessible.
The Guidelines for Creating Accessible Course Content webpage has answers to frequently asked questions to assist you in utilizing this important tool.

National Center on Accessible Education Materials

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) are print- and technology-based educational materials, including printed and electronic textbooks and related core materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifically focuses on accessible formats of print instructional materials. The National Center on Accessible Education Materials website provides further information about AEM including a list of sources of AIM for post-secondary students.

Accessibility for Course Content

The Accessibility Network at University of Cincinnati's website has a collection of resources on how to make course content accessible. 

To guide your efforts, the Accessibity Network developed a set of Operating Principles for course accessibility.

For more information on how to make your course materials accessible visit the Documents, Video & Media, and Canvas resources.

UC Programs and Services

The Academic Excellence & Support Services (AESS) offices provide resources to empower students to achieve academic success during and after their time at UC. The AESS offices include Acessibility Resources Office, the Learning Assistance Center, Testing Services, and Veterans Programs & Services.

The Accessibility Resources Office at the Cllifton, Blue Ash and Clermont campuses work to provide students with disabilities reasonable accommodations and support services. They provide resources for UC students, faculty, and parents.

CET&L Contact

If you would like to discuss UDL & Accessibility, please contact Kimber Andrews, Assistant Director.

Kimber Andrews