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Universal Design for Learning

Introduction to UDL and Equity Education Frameworks

This first module provides an overview of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the several equity and learner focused frameworks and practices we will be exploring throughout this course. Examining the intersection of UDL with initiatives such as antiracismOpens in a new window, curriculumOpens in a new window decolonizationOpens in a new window, and the social modelOpens in a new window of disability offers us unique opportunities to co-design inclusive learning environments where all our students belong and thrive.

Three concentric circles that contain keywords for the course. The centre circle is white and reads “Learners.” This is surrounded by a circle that contains labels for the three UDL principles with their matching colours: “Representation” with a purple background, “Action & Expression” with a blue background, and “Engagement” with a green background. These labels are arranged around the circle and appear to cycle one into the other. The ring around these UDL principles contains labels for other frameworks that can partner with UDL From top centre and moving clockwise, these read: “Accessibility,” “Anti-oppression,” “Intersectionality,” “Critical digital pedagogy,” and “Anti-racism.” On the outside of this ring are three other words. These read (clockwise from top right): “Future Vision,” “Decolonize Curriculum,” and “Community.”

The learner is central to any curriculumOpens in a new window design. In this course – as the diagram illustrates – we begin by recognizing that “the learner” is in fact a multitude of learners – each with unique strengths and lived experiencesOpens in a new window. Surrounding the “learners” are the three key principles of UDL: Engagement, Representation, and Action and Expression. Using these principles, we can design accessible and inclusive learning environments that welcome and support all learners. However, one standpoint alone couldn’t possibly provide the breadth of perspective necessary to design curriculum for learners whose lives encompass a variety of identities and experiences. More frameworks and perspectives are needed. For this reason, the course has partnered UDL with antiracistOpens in a new window and anti-oppressionOpens in a new window practices, course design principles, and critical digital pedagogy.

The overarching goal is to provide the framing and tools to help us work together, in community, to decolonizeOpens in a new window our curriculum and learning environments.

We invite you to begin a collaborative exploration of the ways these frameworks and viewpoints overlap, are unique unto themselves, and complement each other. Your engagement and creativity in thinking through these ideas are invaluable in developing visionary teaching and learning strategies for all!

All of the frameworks and perspectives you will explore in this course are each a subject of study on their own.

Depending on your background and interest, you may want to investigate further using embedded links and exploring the UDL Certificate Library. 

Here is what participants who have taken this course in the past have said about their “take away” learning:

Educator circle activity

Past Participants Educator Circle


If using a mouse, trackpad, or touch device, click on the button over an educator in the group to open the educator slide. Use the next and previous buttons to navigate between educators and the close button to return to the group.

If using a keyboard or screen reader, press the tab key to focus on an educator in the group, and press space to open the educator slide. Once open you may use the Left arrow and Right arrow keys to navigate between educators. Press Escape to return to the group.

Transcript for Educator CircleOpens in a new window

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