Skip to content

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Implementation
Home > What is UDL?

What is UDL?

What is UDL: Seeing the Full Tapestry

When I was little, I was encouraged to see how pieces and parts combined to become a thing and how to make that thing better. I got to disassemble and reassemble things like toys, blenders, lawn mowers and theater costumes all in the quest for improvement. That desire to understand how something is made and discovering how to make it better drives my continued pursuit of understanding and sharing Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

UDL is a tremendous framework that grew out of existing constructs, concepts, processes, and practices. From there, the principles, guidelines, and checkpoints emerged resulting in the UDL Guidelines. Many educators come to UDL by learning about the Guidelines, but they don’t always see the different parts of the framework and how they interconnect. Without that knowledge, their own connection to UDL isn’t as strong as it could be. To make that connection stronger, I set out to share what pieces are interwoven and currently viewed as integral to the framework.

We are in an exciting period where some people are discovering UDL for the first time while others are deepening their UDL connection and revising the guidelines with an eye on equity. Using the analogy of threads that create a tapestry, my hope is that this infographic (also offered as an EPUB) will generate conversation across that continuum about what threads weave together to create the framework, what’s missing, and how we can help everyone grow in their understanding and application of UDL.

Defining UDL

What is UDL? It is a collection of best practices from education, special education, psychology, and neuropsychology that educators can use to design lessons and learning environments so all learners have the opportunity to become purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed. Underneath all of that is a single driving factor: learner variability.

Examples like snowflakes, fingerprints, and downhill skiing have all been used to illustrate how each person learns differently. It is with this knowledge that educators seek ways to support all of these different learners. That’s when we put the framework into action.

And while the UDL Framework asserts that all learners can become purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed, we have to give learners those opportunities by clearing out barriers. We do that by activating students’ interest, supporting their ability to stick to the learning, and teaching them how to self-regulate.

Because UDL is a framework, the what and how of UDL continues beyond this description. This is why Loui has authored books, speaks, and consults. She knows that each individual, school, district, state, and even national government system will have its own needs and preferences when it comes to learning about UDL implementation. Loui has the experience and knowledge to guide the investigation, growth, and adoption of the UDL framework into any system.