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Disabilities: Universal Design for Learning

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UDL at a Glance

Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) & Universal Design for Information Literacy (UDIL)

Universal Design for Instruction calls for goals, materials, methods, and assessment that are appropriate for the maximum number of learners” (Hoover, Nall, & Willis, 2013, p.27).

Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) was developed to “increase access for students with learning disabilities at the postsecondary level, providing a framework that librarians can apply to designing inclusive information literacy curricula. The Research Services Librarians at Landmark College, a college for students with learning disabilities or AD/HD, have adapted the principles of UDI to develop an approach to library instruction called Universal Design for Information Literacy (UDIL)” (Chodock & Dolinger, 2009, p.24). 

UDIL is an integrated approach that ensures that information literacy instruction is accessible to all learners. Using repetition, slower pace or multimedia presentations could benefit individuals with disabilities in developing their information literacy skills (Chodock & Dolinger, 2009).

Nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction

Nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction (Scott, McGuire, and Shaw, 2001) include:

  1. Equitable use,
  2. Flexibility in use,
  3. Simple and intuitive instruction,
  4. Perceptible information,
  5. Tolerance for error,
  6. Low physical effort,
  7. Size and space,
  8. A community of learners,
  9. Instructional climate 

Applications of UD in Education

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL can be divided into 3 main components:

  1. Multiple Means of Representation,
  2. Multiple Means of Engagement, 
  3. Multiple Means of Expression.

"Ideally, educators apply these components to their lessons, which give students various ways to collect information, interact with it, and respond to it” (Webb & Hoover, 2015, p.539).

"Faculty who anticipate diversity can intentionally build inclusive instructional approaches into their teaching” (McGuire & Scott, 2006). The same is true for instructional librarians.

Strategies & Tips for Implementing UDI

Applin's Recommendations (1999):

  1. Include short, specific, verbal instructions/explanations
  2. Simple, large visual representations
  3. Include immediate, hands-on experience
  4. Use simple, well-labeled handouts
  5. Pictures should be large and labeled
  6. Definitions should be brief and contain illustrations

Books on UDL/UDI


Applin, M. B. (1999). Instructional Services for Students with Disabilities. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(2), 139.

Chodock, T., & Dolinger, E. (2009). Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy: Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(1), 24-32. Retrieved from

Hoover, J., Nall, C., & Willis, C. (2013). Designing Library Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities. North Carolina Libraries (Online), 71(2), 27-31. Retrieved from

McGuire, J. M., & Scott, S. S. (2006). An Approach for Inclusive College Teaching: Universal Design for Instruction. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 14(1), 21-32.

McGuire, J. M., & Scott, S. S. (2006). Universal Design for Instruction: Extending the Universal Design Paradigm to College Instruction. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 124-134. 

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Shaw, S.F. (2001). Principles of Universal Design for Instruction. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut.

Webb, K. K., & Hoover, J. (2015). Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the Academic Library: A Methodology for Mapping Multiple Means of Representation in Library Tutorials. College & Research Libraries, 76(4), 537-553. Retrieved from