Institute on Disabilities at Temple University


Ensuring Higher Education Opportunities for ALL

NOTE: This program was funded from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2012.

Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education


"Students today arrive at the university with very different sets of skills, life experiences, abilities, and learning styles. For some, English is a second language. Others learn better through visual or kinesthetic representation of ideas rather than verbal lecture"(Detweiler, 2005). Still others have some form of disability, either apparent or non-apparent.

According to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), this diversity can be addressed most effectively by providing alternative modalities for learning. This means providing students a range of options for accessing, using, and engaging with learning materials. Specifically, university instructors who use UDL:

  1. Present content to students in multiple ways and in a variety of formats,
  2. Encourage students to engage with new ideas and information in multiple ways, and
  3. Allow students to express themselves and their understanding of the material in multiple ways.

These 3 pedagogical principles (multiple means of content representation, student engagement, and student expression) are based in part on the work from the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum, and David Rose and Anne Meyer of the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). Their early work focused on pedagogy at the K-12 level. However, researchers and faculty have found broad applicability of UDL principles to higher education. Disability Studies and Mosaic: Humanities faculties at Temple University are learning to apply these principles and practices in their teaching as part of the curriculum transformation process of Ensuring Higher Education Opportunity for All.

New Online Course on Universal Design for Learning

To learn more about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in postsecondary education a short, online course on UDL is available through the University of Hawaii. The course should take about 1 hour to complete.

At the end of the 4-part short course there is a 20-question test to assess the user's knowledge of the course content. A Certificate of Completion will be available for those who complete the test with a score of 80% or higher. The test may be taken at any time before, during, or after any one or all of the sections are completed. Visit to begin the course.


  • Center for Applied Special Technology (2010).
  • ACCESS to Postsecondary Education through Universal Design for Learning (2010). UDL in Higher Education. Retrieved from on October 3, 2010. [please note this link has been removed or changed]
  • CAST (2010), Principles of Universal Design for Learning. Retrieved from on October 3, 2010.
  • Detweiler, Richard. (2004). At Last, We Can Replace Lectures, Chronicle Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2004.


"How can instructors encourage in-classroom and out-of-class engagement?"

"How might instructors expand classroom teaching?"

"Importance of feedback: explicit, timely, informative and accessible"

Resources focused on Universal Design for Learning are provided below for those interested in learning more about this approach to teaching diverse learners in higher education.

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Infusing "Disability as Diversity" into Human Resources at Temple University and Beyond

Funded by U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education.

Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service