An Introduction to UDL

What is UDL?

The educational framework of universal design for learning (UDL) began from the early efforts of researchers at CAST in Wakefield, MA. Their research and development projects have provided numerous resources and tools that demonstrate the UDL approach. As a framework, UDL is based on research from the learning sciences that verifies differences in how people learn across three neural networks of recognition, strategic, and affective learning. Since 2008 UDL has been defined in U. S. federal law through the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 (HEOA, 2008) and acknowledged as a

“scientifically valid framework for guiding education practice that provides flexibility in the ways information if presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways that students are engaged” (20 U.S.C. § 1003(24)).

Each time we introduced UDL or a new module we purposely included a “Three Ways to Begin or Consider” mirroring the practice of offering options and recognizing learner variability.

Three Ways to Begin Your Exploration

  1. Read an introduction to UDL
  2. Watch a video illustrating the big picture of UDL
  3. Dig deeper into an article about UDL

Adapted from information provided on universal design for learning at CAST ( and the National Center on Universal Design for Learning (