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How to Make Digital Assets Accessible: Universal Design

A resource to help you create accessible digital assets for your course

How many times have you used a cut-out curb to pull a suitcase, move a cart, push a stroller or ride your bike across an intersection? Do you prefer the ease of use and aesthetic of lever faucet handles? We all benefit from Universal Design of physical spaces and the same is true of learning spaces. If you apply the three simple design principles of Universal Design for Learning to your course materials, you will not only accommodate students with disabilities but also the learning preferences for all of your students.

Universal Design for Learning Principles

The three core principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are easy-to-implement strategies. Using these strategies each time you develop course materials is a proactive way to address accommodation needs of students, make your materials more accessible to all students and reduce the need to retroactively adapt your materials should you have a request from SDS (Student Disability Services) to do so.

The principles are:

  1. The What: Represent information in multiple ways. Provide students with different ways to acquire information or knowledge. This may include multiple modalities to represent information or flexible formats that allow students to enlarge text or access captions.
  2. The How: Give students options to demonstrate they have met learning outcomes. This may include allowing the use of different media and communication tools, designing assignments that provide choices for action or expression, and providing alternatives that accommodate the use of adaptive technologies, such as screen readers or adapted keyboards.
  3. The Why: Offer multiple aproaches for student engagement. This includes providing choices, making information relevant and relatable to a variety of learners.


View the UDL on Campus website to explore examples of UDL in higher education.

Difference between UDL and Accessibility

View the transcript for this video.

Additional Resources

UDL Guidelines


Read more about supporting evidence for UDL on the UDL Guidelines website.

The theory, pedagogy and neuroscience behind UDL are discussed in these books:


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Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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