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Universal Design for Learning
The Representation Principle

Options for Perception, Language, and Symbols

Providing options for perception empowers students to make choices for themselves to best meet their needs. These can be alternatives such as articles, podcasts, and videos that convey the same content. When it comes to text, choice alternatives can include controlling text size and colour contrast, and speech-to-text for concurrent read-along.

Providing options that help students decode and clarify language and symbols is a way of reducing barriers in our learning environments. These might include glossaries, links to reference sheets, clues, diagrams, and links to formulas. Academic terms are a common barrier to learning in higher education. However, often these terms are linked to concepts and outcomes integral to courses. In this case, providing resources to help students understand specialized language could be critical to making content accessible. In addition to glossaries and decreasing jargon, encouraging translations for texts is a great way to build pathways to comprehension.

How Barriers Manifest in Language 4:05 min

In this video, educators explore how language can create barriers.


Myth: If all the barriers were gone so would an important challenge of learning.

Next sectionOptions for Comprehension