Instructional Practices

OSEP to Host National Summit on Attract, Prepare, Retain on October 27-29, 2020

The 2020 OSEP Summit is an opportunity to bring together various stakeholders to explore potential strategies and innovative approaches to address this critical need. The virtual event will be held over three days and participants may register for each event individually or attend all three.  Additional information and registration can be found on the 2020 OSEP Summit Webpage.

These materials were developed through projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Many were developed by projects affiliated specifically with the Department’s Office of Special Education Program’s Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA&D) Network.

Background Knowledge with UDL
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is discussed in this paper, starting with an explanation of “background knowledge” and how it relates to curriculum applications.   The paper then reviews UDL as it applies to learning through the use of background knowledge.  Guidelines for UDL implementation, as well as further online resources, are provided.

Best Practices through Universal Design for Learning
ACCESS to Postsecondary Education through Universal Design for Learning

This video, available free of charge from the ACCESS professional development initiative at Colorado State University, provides information on imbedding Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into faculty development and teaching practices.  Faculty members discuss practical strategies for implementing UDL in their classrooms.

Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities: The Promise of UDL
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

This report answers questions about the application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for students with low-incidence disabilities and describes challenges faced by schools. Models and practices are described that can be implemented to improve access to the general education curriculum for students with low-incidence disabilities.

Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)

This report examines information on the theory and research behind differentiated instruction and the intersection with Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  It begins with an introduction to differentiated instruction by defining the construct, then identifying components and features, and additionally provides a sampling of applications.  Next, the report introduces UDL and the linkages with differentiated instruction both in theory and with specific lesson examples.  The report concludes with a listing of Web resources for further information and explicit examples.

Framework for UDL Video
The Access Center:  Improving Results for All Students K-8

This video is an excerpt from the “Adequate Yearly Access, Participation and Progress Institute” held Oct. 13, 2004, at the Access Center.  In this clip, Skip Stahl from CAST explains the framework for UDL and provides an overview of its three main principles.

Module 4: Universal Designs for Learning
National Institute for Urban School Improvement (NIUSI)

The professional learning module on Universal Designs for Learning was developed by NIUSI for the networks of schools engaging their faculty, staff, families, students, and community members in ongoing renewal and systemic change. The concept of Universal Design foregrounds equitable opportunities and access to spaces, information and participation for all by creating environments and products that accommodate as many individuals as possible from the beginning of instruction. Universal Designs for Learning (UDL) extends Universal Design into the field of education. While initially defined as a method to minimize barriers students may experience when learning new concepts, this module presents UDL as an approach to providing access to robust opportunities to learn for a diverse range of learners in inclusive educational environments. The module leads participants through UDL activities and short informational presentations that focus on applying UDL across the curriculum, designing inclusive classroom learning environments, assessing students' ongoing progress, adjusting instruction, and addressing legislation that impacts curricula and assessment utilized in schools.

A Practical Reader in Universal Design for Learning
Rose, D.H., & Meyer, A. (2006). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press

This book, which focuses on educating teachers and administrators on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), provides a perspective on the differences students have in learning, the difficulties they face when learning, and how new media is positively affecting how students learn.  The book provides tips on the use of UDL, learned through professional development workshops, classroom-based research and UDL practitioners.

The Promise of Accessible Textbooks: Increased Achievement for All Students
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

In this article, the challenge of designing accessible textbooks is discussed with regard to copyright infringement laws.  Current solutions to copyright laws are reviewed and a push for further resolution is argued.  The benefit to students of using accessible textbooks to improve their educational success is also discussed.

Reaching Every Student in Science K–8: UDL Approach
The Access Center:  Improving Results for All Students K–8

This video is an excerpt from the “Adequate Yearly Access, Participation and Progress Institute” held Oct. 13, 2004 at the Access Center.  In the context of a first-grade science lesson plan, Tracey Hall discusses UDL principles and supports and how they can be applied to improve access for all students.

Response-to-Instruction and Universal Design for Learning: How Might They Intersect in the General Education Classroom?
Access Center: Improving Results for All Students K–8 

Response-to-instruction and universal design are both approaches to assisting students with disabilities to have access to the general education curriculum.  In this brief, these approaches are reviewed in-depth both separately and together.  Implications for instructional approaches are reviewed.

Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning
Rose, D.H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Alexandria, VA: ASCD

This book, presented in an online format, is a comprehensive presentation of the principles and applications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  The first part of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age presents the foundation of UDL, neuroscience research on learner differences, the effective uses of new digital media in the classroom, and how the creation of flexible curricula can help all students learn more effectively.  The second part of the book addresses UDL’s practical applications and ways in which UDL can help educators set appropriate goals, select methods and materials to give all students optimum support, and ensure the fair and accurate assessment of every student’s progress. 

Technologies Supporting Curriculum Access for Students with Disabilities
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

With a focus on local school personnel, this document informs educators about how technology can be used to enhance curriculum and learning for all students, including students with disabilities.  Questions and answers are provided, which school personnel can use to structure programs to improve access to the general education curriculum.

Text Transformations
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum

This article introduces text transformation, an effective alternative to print text, reviews its application across curriculum areas, and provides evidence for its effectiveness.

Universal Design for Learning and the Transition to a More Challenging Academic Curriculum: Making It in Middle School and Beyond
PACER Center

This booklet addresses issues in middle school, introduces parents to the background and main principles of UDL, and describes how UDL can help children with disabilities succeed in the classroom. 

Universal Design for Learning: Implementation in Six Local Education Agencies
Project Forum

This analysis includes a working definition of UDL that incorporates the theoretical framework developed by CAST and the architectural concepts of universal design described by the Center for Universal Design.  It also includes information from staff representing six local education agencies in five states who were interviewed to gather information about UDL practices, successes and challenges. Findings are reported in the following areas: policies and practices; systemic issues; practical application; supports and influences; benefits; challenges; future directions; and recommendations.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Book Builder
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

The UDL Book Builder is a free tool designed to create, read, and share engaging digital books that build reading skills for students.  This Web-based tool provides background information about UDL and model books.  The tool also provides a guided online system through which teachers, parents, and students can create their own digital books and share them through the online Shared Book Library.  Additionally, the tool contains tips for writers and illustrators, and sections that provide ideas for creating engaging books and using UDL to reach different kinds of learners.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Lesson Builder
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

The UDL Lesson Builder is a free tool that provides educators with models and tools to create and adapt lessons that increase access to and participation in the general education curriculum for all students.  The UDL Lesson Builder provides background information on UDL.  The tool also contains model UDL lessons, which are aligned to standards and tailored to include principles and practical implications of UDL, and provides a guided online process through which educators can create and adapt their own UDL lessons.

Universal Design to Support Access to the General Education Curriculum
Access Center: Improving Outcomes for All Students K–8
In this brief, the Access Center offers a background on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and provides examples of how UDL can benefit students in the classroom.  The Access Center also provides online sources for additional information on UDL.

UDL Toolkits
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

The UDL Toolkits help educators understand and apply UDL principles in classrooms and/or train others in UDL.  Using the UDL framework, the tool kits support varied learning styles, needs, and preferences for teachers and students.  The tool kits include:

  1. The Internet Inquiry Toolkit, a resource for teachers who recognize that finding information on the Internet has become an essential literacy task;
  2. Planning for All Learners (PAL), which applies UDL to planning and developing curricula in ways that promote access, participation, and progress in the general education curriculum for all students;
  3. SEEC:  Supporting, Engaging and Enhancing Comprehension for Students in High School, which provides high school educators with strategies, procedures, activities, and resources informed by UDL principles;
  4. Guide for a One–Day Workshop-the UDL Way, a practical tool kit for professional development providers/teacher-trainers who develop one-day informational workshops that are focused on specific content;
  5. UDL Training Guide, which provides background information and support for those using Guider for a One-Day Workshop–the UDL Way or providing other training on UDL; and
  6. Digital Content in the Classroom, which provides information, support, tools, ideas, models, research, and a community of practice for educators interested in using flexible computer technologies to reach and teach diverse learners.

Using a Universal Design Approach to Find Barriers and Solutions in the Curriculum
Access Center: Improving Outcomes for All Students K–8

The Access Center created an exercise in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to help individuals to learn about and share ways to use UDL to improve student outcomes.  The exercise includes an overview of UDL, reviews possible barriers and opportunities for modification in educational practices, and provides a template for using this exercise with others. 


This document was produced under U.S. Department of Education Contract No. EDO4CO0025/0002 with the American Institutes for Research.  Renee Bradley served as the contracting officer's representative.  No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this document or on Web sites referred to in this document is intended or should be inferred. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Education.